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LIFK AND LI'. iTTl-'. 


Benjamin Wokvak Pai,mu; 

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BENJAMIN Morgan Palmer 



Author of ''^ Life and Letters of Rob t. L, Dabney^ D,D.; " 
**fohn Calvin and Genevan Reformation^^'' Etc. 

Richmond, Va. 




copyriohtbd by 

Thb Presbyterian Committee of Pubwcation 

J. E. Magii^i,, Secretary 


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Printed bt 

Thb Cubbrrland Press 

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In the summer of 1903, the Rev. John W. Caldwell, Jr., 
paid me a call, during which he said that there was a plan on 
foot to prepare a memorial volume of his grandfather, the late 
Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer, of New Orleans; that according to 
this plan the volume would contain the best of the biographical 
papers concerning him published soon after Dr. Palmer's 
death, a few of his best sermons and speeches, and a historical 
sketch of his services to the Church. He said, also, that in 
a family conference, they had concurred in thinking that I was 
the man to prepare the account of the ecclesiastical services. 

I was naturally pleased at being thought worthy to- perform 
this service in behalf of the memory of such a distinguished 
and noble man, but I felt that other men were probably much 
fitter for the task; and that it would be difficult to bring out 
his ecclesiastical services fully without dealing with his life 
and character as a man and a Christian, apart from which he 
could have given no such service to the Church. I also felt 
that such a volume as had been contemplated was an insuf- 
ficient memorial of one so worthy ; that a proper regard for his 
character, and work, and for the interests of Christianity, 
all dictated that an adequate biography should be prepared. 
I frankly stated all these views. I also said that, in my judg- 
ment, they should find a man to do the work who had been 
bred in the South Carolina belt of civilization. I ventured 
even to name a man who would do the work well. Mr. Cald- 
well agreed that a biography was really demanded to meet 
the proprieties of the case; but spoke of practical difficulties 
in the way of securing such an elaborate work. He said that 
I was believed to have the kinship of ecclesiastical view de- 
sired in a biographer. After considerable conversation, I 
declared that I could not even consider the matter further 

vi Preface. 

for six months ; but that at the end of that time I would, if he 
pleased, see whether I could not assist him in having the biog- 
raphy prepared. 

Accordingly, in January, or February, 1904, I wrote to a 
common friend in New Orleans, a gentleman who had known 
Dr. Palmer well, and admired him greatly ; and told him of the 
conversation betw^n Mr. Caldwell and myself; gave him my 
notion of the kind of work which should be prepared ; repeated 
to him my view that a man from Dr. Palmer's own section 
of the country and one who had known him personally, should 
be discovered to reproduce his life. I said, however, that if 
those who wished to see his life reproduced could agree on 
no one else to do it, I would, because of my desire to secure the 
perpetuation of the Doctor's influence, undertake the biog- 
raphy, provided his friends in New Orleans would assume a 
certain specified financial risk. 

Meanwhile, from other sources demands came that I should 
undertake this work. The following letter, written only a 
short while before its lamented author's death, will serve as an 
instance : 

Rev, Thos. C. Johnson, D,D., Union Seminary, Richmond, Va, 
My Dear Doctor: Dr. Palmer's life ought to be written, 
and, in my judgment, you are the man to write it. Let me 
say in advance, that this letter is penned on my own initiative 
and without consulting any member of the family. 

"There has been much talk of a monument to Dr. Palmer. 
In my opinion the best is a Biography. Mrs. Caldwell ob- 
served to me when urging the matter some time since, that 
her father did not think much of biographies, as they were 
commonly unread; and that his long life as a simple, hard- 
working pastor had been too uneventful to furnish interesting 
material. The last was a huge mistake. 

"Some of the items as they occur to me, I sketch: — product 
of a low-country civilization, a distinct variety ; Levitical tribe, 
ministerial succession from Colonial times; Northern and 
Southern strains of blood in immediate ancestry; college es- 
capade and estrangement from father and recoil from rdi- 

Preface. vii 

gion ; spiritual conflict at conversion ; life as a young pastor, 
choice of extempore preaching; long pastorate at a strategic 
point; life as professor, author; contributions to S. W. P., 
notably 'Qiristian Paradoxes/ 'Leaves from a Pastor's Port- 
folio;* review articles on every burning question, papers 
against Organic Union ; agency in epochs, national and eccle- 
siastical ; sermon at opening of the war ; first General Assem- 
bly ; anti-lottery speech ; tragic end ; obsequies, tributes, etc. 

"Although in sympathy with Dr. Dabney on State and Church 
questions, he was, unlike him, an original secessionist, and, 
though strong in convictions and virile in expression, he was 
not so extreme in either; and his life furnishes material for 
the sketching of a portrait in which the skilful limner of Dab- 
ney need not repeat himself. 

"Fraternally yours, 

"R. Q. Mallard." 

Believing that the conditions stated in my letter to New Or- 
leans would prove the occasion of the choice of some other 
man as Dr. Palmer's biographer, I was surprised by the early 
reception of letters saying that the conditions had all been 
complied with and that I was expected to do the work. 

Having now no choice in the matter, I began at the earliest 
practical moment the study of the civilization of the far South 
and the collection of material bearing on Dr. Palmer's life. 
Much valuable matter was at once gathered through correspon- 
dence and by advertising for it. In June and July, 1904, I 
visited New Orleans, La., Charleston, McPhersonville, Wal- 
terboro, and Columbia, S. C, to gather material and converse 
with those who had known Dr. Palmer best. At every point, 
my mission secured me the greatest consideration and enthusi- 
astic aid. In that most courteous of cities, New Orleans, 
there appeared so general a desire to help on the part of all 
who were informed of my business that space cannot be taken 
here to recount their names. Special mention must be made, 
however, of the proprietors of the great daily papers of the city, 
who kindly put their files at my command ; of the guardians of 
the City Archives, who therein gave me access to mines of great 

viii Preface. 

value ; of Rabbi Leucht, who granted some specially informing 
interviews; and, particularly, of Prof. John W. Caldwell and 
His family, who not only turned me loose in Dr. Palmer's 
study, opening his desks and revealing sometimes uncon- 
sciously, much as to his character, in the intimacies of social 
intercourse, but gave themselves to recalling, clarifying and 
verifying facts in connection with his life, affording me every 
possible assistance. 

At Charleston, S. C, Mr. Alfred Lanneau and his sisters. 
Miss Marv Caldwell and Mr. Asher D. Cohen contributed 
valuable materials. At McPhersonville, the family of the Hon. 
Sanders Glover, and their cousin, Mrs. Kerr; at Walterboro, 
the Hon. C. G. Henderson and others ; at Columbia, Miss Helen 
McMaster, Mrs. Clarkson, the Hon. Daniel Joseph Pope, Pro- 
fessor of Law in the University of South Carolina, who in 
his youth was a roommate of Dr. Palmer at the University of 
Georgia; and others. 

Many ladies and gentlemen have loaned us valuable pack- 
ages of letters; but, as their names for the most part occur 
in the body of the work, it has been deemed unnecessary to 
repeat them here. 

Express mention must be made of aid rendered by Prof. 
Charles Woodward Hutson, of Texas. 

The materials gathered, I went earnestly to work in the en- 
deavor to master them and to reproduce the life of my noble 
subject in his environment. It was not an easy task. I am 
conscious of many imperfections in its execution; but I can 
claim the merit of having at least tried to present Dr. Palmer 
and his history in proj>ortions corresponding to the objective 

Our friend, the Rev. D. K. Walthell, Ph.D., has prepared 
the index to the work. T. C. J. 

Union Theological Seminary of Virginia, 


The Ancestors i 

Features of the Civilization Amidst Which He Developed . i8 

Boyhood and Early Youth 36 

Days of His College Training - . . 45 

Student for the Ministry in Columbia Seminary .... 62 

Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Savannah . . 73 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 87 

The Pastor at Columbia^ S. C. — Continued 126 

Professor in Columbia Seminary 150 

The Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans 170 

The Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans — Continued ... 196 

His Course During the War 236 

X Contents. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls 291 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls — Continued 346 

At the Summit of His Powers and 'Productivity .... 421 

At the Summit of His Powers and Productivity — Continued . 482 

The Final Stadium of Servicer Noble But Broken .... 531 

The Final Stadium of Service; Noble But Broken — Continued 571 

The Final Stadium of Service; Noble But Broken — Continued 606 

The Street Car Accident, Death, Burial and Eulogies . . 620 

Summary View of the Man and His Services 651 



Benjamin Morgan Palmer 



William Palmer L— William Palmer II.— Wiu-iam Palmer III. 
AND Thomas Palmer I. — Rev. Thomas Palmer. — Rev. Samuel 
Palmer.— Job Palmer. — Rev. Edward Palmer.— Sarah Bunce 

IT is vain to pour contempt upon the pride which traces one's 
history back to a noble heritage." Virtue receives a g^ace 
when it descends from sire to son: 

"And is successively, from blood to blood, 
The right of birth." 

The history of Benjamin Morgan Palmer "was rooted in a 
strong, pure and gentle" lineage. The virtues which shone so 
luminously in him, had appeared before in his ancestral lines. 
The truthfulness of these assertions may be tested by a glance 
at the following sketches of his ancestors : 

William Palmer L, ( 1638). 

In the year of our Lord 162 1, when the Plymouth Colony 
was less than one year old, there came into the new settlement 
a second ship, laden with immigrants from the mother country 
of England. Amongst these was one William Palmer, whom, 
for convenience, we have called William Palmer I. We know 
little of him with certainty. Back in England, his home had 
been in Nottinghamshire. It would be interesting to know that 
he was related to Herbert Palmer, of the county of Kent, who 
was to sit as a member of the Westminster Assembly and to 
be known as the best catechist in all England. For in Her- 

2 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

bert Palmer appeared certain prominent characteristics that 
have appeared, also, in some of the greater offspring of Wil- 
liam Palmer L, notably the faculty of uniting breadth of af- 
fection with the tenacious maintenance of personal convictions. 
No such relationship is known, however. 

Tradition says that this William Palmer L, who came over 
on the ship Fortune, bore the title of lieutenant. Though 
history tells us little of his life in the colony, it is no difficult 
task to imagine how he was occupied for the first years after 
his coming. "Fishing, hunting, and the collection of fuel and 
timber were the chief businesses of the colonists. These pur- 
suits, which gave place to one another in turn, were interrupted 
by occasional traffic with the Indians." In his first midwinter 
the colonists "built a fort with good timber, both strong and 
comely, which was of good defence, made with a flat roof and 
battlements, on which their ordnance were mounted. Jt served 
them also for a meetinghouse, and was fitted accordingly for 
that use. It was a great work for them in their weakness and 
time of want. But the danger of the time required it, and also 
the hearing of the great massacre in Virginia made all hands 
willing to dispatch the same."^ The settlers barricaded their 
dwellings. They enclosed the whole settlement, with the fort 
and space for a garden for each family, with a paling. They 
completed a military organization. They kept a watch and 
ward against the Indians. They struggled with weakness and 
famine. They prayed and worshipped, some of them in sincer- 
ity and truth, others in hypocrisy ; for not all of the passengers 
on the Mayflower, and not all on the Fortune, were honest 
and worthy. The community was a mixed one. 

That William Palmer I. belonged to the body of good men 
in the colony, and that he had in him worthy stock, there 
can be no doubt. Can an evil tree bring forth good fruit? 
His descendants in every generation have been men of worth, 
some of them men of mark. His line has given to the church 
more than thirteen ministers, viz.: Thomas Palmer, Samuel 
Palmer, Dr. B. M. Palmer, Sr. (uncle to Dr. B. M. Palmer of 
New Orleans), Edward Palmer, Benjamin Morgan Palmer, 
Edward P. Palmer, Edward Palmer Hutson, I. S. K. Axson, 
P. E. Axson, B. E. Lanneau, Wallace T. Palmer, Edward 

* Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, p. 126, quoted in Pal- 
frey's History of New England, I., p. 196-197. 

The Ancestors. 3 

Palmer Pillans, and John W, Caldwell, and others. His line 
includes Mrs. S. P. B. D. Shindler, the poetess, who wrote, 
"I'm a Pilgrim, and I'm a Stranger," "Passing under the 
Rod," and several prose works, some of which had large sale. 

He had married some years before leaving England. His 
wife Frances followed him to the New World in August, 1623. 
At that time, the ship Ann and the little James arrived, 
having aboard "some who were the wives and children of 
such as were already here." Amongst these were Frances 
Palmer and her son William Palmer II., having come over in 
the Ann. 

William Palmer I. and his wife Frances removed in the year 
1632, taking their family with them, to Duxbury, a town situ- 
ated on the other side of the harbor, at a distance of nine miles 
from Plymouth. A sense of security had spread, and property 
had increased, especially cattle. The settlers at Plymouth, 
who for the first years had lived compactly, had begun about 
this time to "disperse for the convenience of more pasturage 
and other accommodations." Later, the Palmers removed 
further up the coast toward Boston, to a place called Scituate. 
There the will of William I. was probated March 5, 1638. 

William Palmer II. 

William Palmer II. was born, as we have seen, in England. 
He was married at Scituate, March 27, 1633, to Elizabeth 
Hodgkins. He removed to Yarmouth. He was one of the 
purchasers of Dartmouth. Tradition says that he removed 
to Newton, Long Island, in 1656, had born of him a son, in 
1665, who was to become the Rev. Thomas Palmer; and that 
he died about the time of this son*s birth ; but there appears to 
be some solid evidence that he died as early as 1637. 

William Palmer III. and Thomas Palmer I. 

William Palmer III. was born January 27, 1634, and his 
brother, Thomas Palmer L, in 1635 or '6. This William 
Palmer became heir of "Plymouth Estate," and 'settled at Dart- 
mouth in 1660. He died in 1679. His wife bore the name 
"Susanna." His children were William IV., born 1663, John, 
bom on the i8th of May, 1665, and "other children" not 
named. It has been conjectured, and with considerable prob- 
ability, that one of these "other children" was Thomas Palmer, 

4 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

whose acquaintance we shall make as the Rev. Thomas Palmer ; 
and that he was a twin brother of John, since the Rev. Thomas' 
birth year is certainly known, from his tombstone, to have 
been 1665. On the other hand it has been conjectured that, 
as William Palmer IL had a son born to him in 1635 or '6, 
who bore the name of Thomas Palmer, and as he is known to 
have inherited his father's lands at Scituate, he became the 
father of the Thomas Palmer born in 1665. 

There are thus three views taken as to the connection be- 
tween William Palmer IL and Rev. Thomas Palmer; and, 
notwithstanding the fact that several published "records" make 
Rev. Thomas Palmer to have been the son of William Palmer 
IL, it is not deemed safe to assert that such was the connec- 
tion. Mr. Alfred W. Lanneau, of Charleston, S. C, has given 
to this question much intelligent study and concludes, ''that 
the Rev. Thomas Palmer was the son of William III. and not 
of William IL ; and that he was a brother of John and of Wil- 
liam IV." He writes, "My record of his life shows that he 
had a brother William when he moved to Middleboro." 

Thomas Palmer II. (1665-1743). 

According to the testimony of his tombstone, this man was 
born in 1665. If not the son of William Palmer IL, and of 
his wife, Elizabeth Hodgkins, he was the grandson, and proba- 
bly through William Palmer III., as his father. He became a 
minister and settled at Middleboro, Mass., about 1696. He 
seems to have been a rash and headstrong man, and given to 
occasional intemperance. The discovery of these weaknesses 
provoked opposition to his settlement. He was ordained only 
after several years of preaching, probably May 2, 1702, his 
ordination being accomplished apparently through taking the 
opposition by surprise. The opposition continued. Council 
after council was held. Finally, in accord with the advice of 
the council of twelve churches, and also of that of "the anni- 
versary convention of ministers in Boston, he was, by the 
church in Middleboro, June 30, 1708, deposed from the min- 
istry, and excluded from their communion at the sacramental 
table." A section of the church stood by him, and he preached 
to his party in a private house for some time after his deposi- 
tion. He lived out his days in the place ; and, as he had con- 
siderable knowledge of medicine and skill in the healing art, 



The Ancestors. S 

he was employed for many years as a practicing physician 
among the people. Near the close of his life he was restored 
to the communion of the church. He died July 17, 1743. 

His excellent wife, Elizabeth Sturvenant, had borne him 
eight children, the sixth of whom was to reflect much honor 
on his parents. 

Samuel Palmer (1707-1775). 

Among the children of Rev. Thomas and Elizabeth Sturve- 
nant Palmer, was Samuel Palmer, their sixth child. He was 
born August 8, 1707, at Middleboro, Mass. He was sent to 
Harvard College for an education. 

The Massachusetts colony had understood what was neces- 
sary in order to have the foundations of a permanent common- 
wealth. The people of that colony had hardly provided for the 
primal wants of life — food, clothing, houses, churches — ^before 
they began, through their legislative body, to tax themselves 
for the rearing of a college and its maintenance, — "the first 
body," says Mr. Edward Everett, "in which the people, by 
their representatives, ever gave their own money to found a 
place of education." They were the objects of suspicion on 
the part of the unfriendly home government. They were sur- 
rounded by hostile nations. But beyond their impending 
troubles, they looked to the needs of the future, and taxed 
themselves heavily to provide for those needs. "The generous 
project engaged the sympathy of John Harvard, a graduate 
of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who, dying childless within 
a year after his arrival in Charlestown, bequeathed (1638) his 
library and the one half of his estate, it being in all about 
seven hundred pounds, for the erecting of the college." * For 
this beneficent act, the Court gratefully ordered the college 
to be called by the name of Harvard. 

From this college Samuel Palmer was graduated in 1727. 
He prepared himself for the ministry, and perhaps, also, for 
the practice of medicine; and was settled at Falmouth, M^ss., 
in 1730. 

At a town meeting held June 30, 1730, it was agreed and 
voted that Mr. Samuel Palmer shall be the town's minister. 
"At the same meeting," says the ancient record, "the town 
made choice of nine men to consider of a suitable sum of 

* Palfrey, History of New England, Vol. I., p. 549. 

6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

money for his encouragement, which gentlemen have agreed to 
give Mr. Palmer £200, settlement, to be paid in four years at 
£50 per year, in bills of credit, with £90 salary for the four 
years, and afterwards £100 per year so long as he shall remain 
the town's minister ; and if the money should still grow worse, 
we will raise in proportion, and if it should grow better then 
to raise in proportion." 

The town and the church made subsequent overtures to 
which he responded, September i, 1731, as follows: 

"To the church and other Christian inhabitants of the town of 
Falmouth, Brethren i—Since you have been pleased after my contin- 
uance for some time with you, to elect and make application to me to 
be your pastor and minister, presenting me with the act of the 
church, bearing date February 4, 1731, wherein is signified their choice of 
me, and desire of my continuance here to take the pastoral care of 
them, etc., and also the concurring act and vote of the town bearing 
date of March 2, 1730, wherein is expressed that the inhabitants of 
the town have legally chosen me to be their minister, etc, I do grate- 
fully acknowledge the respect for, and affection toward me, which 
ye have so unanimously expressed and showed. And I have after hum- 
ble and earnest supplication to the all-wise God to direct and guide 
me in the consideration of so weighty and important an affair and to 
influence my determination thereon — set myself seriously to con- 
sider of your invitation to me with the observable circumstances 
attending the same, asking advice thereon; and since there was such a 
unanimity as ye have signified to have been in your proceedings and a 
continuous affection toward me hath since been expressed, I cannot but 
conceive the voice of God to be therein, — that he united your heart 
and voice thus to apply yourselves to me, and, therefore, notwith- 
standing the discouragements otherwise arising I dare not gainsay, 
but must be willing to comply with your desire to take upon me this 
solemn charge and great work among you, as hearkening to, and 
obeying the voice of the great shepherd of the sheep, depending on him 
for assistance and strength to perform the same. And whereas the 
Lord hath ordained that they who preach the Gospel shall live of the 
Gospel, as they who waited at the altar were partakers with the 
altar, I do and shall expect that ye exercise toward me that charity, 
justice and liberality, which the Gospel of our Lord requires; to 
afford me a comfortable and honorable support and maintenance as 
God shall gfive you ability, and of what you are pleased of your 
bounty to bestow upon me to promote my settling comfortably among 
you, I shall thankfully accept. And now you abiding still by your 
choice of me to take charge of, and watch over you according to the 
rules of the Gospel, I shall account myself bound and devoted to labor 

The Ancestors. 7 

for the good of your souls, desiring and expecting that your prayers 
be joined with mine, that I may not be given to you in anger but in 
love; as a blessing of our gracious and ascended Savior, and by him 
be made faithful and successful in this great work whereto I am 
called.* Samuel Palmer." 

He was a methodical and regular worker, as is shown by 
the clear record of the history of the church of Falmouth which 
he kept from the day of his ordination. He was more, — ^a 
faithful pastor, a laborious minister, a man of prayer, whose 
praise was in all the churches. "His ministry was long con- 
tinued and eminently successful." 

As a minister must often do, in primitive communities, Mr. 
Samuel Palmer engaged in secondary forms of activity. He 
cared not only for the souls but for the bodies of men. He 
was for many years a practitioner of medicine. His library is 
said to have contained "some of the best medical works of his 
day," and he is said, like his father, to have had a "respect- 
able knowledge of the healing art." It is not certain that he 
had received a diploma as a medical student. There is a prob- 
ability that, doctors being scarce, he supplied himself with 
medical knowledge and practiced for the benefit of his parish- 
oners very much as missionaries do at the present day. His 
useful life seems to have been sacrificed to his labors in this 
direction. In making a visit to a patient in a remote part of 
town, he exposed himself to severe weather, brought on a cold 
which was attended by fever and resulted' in his death. 

Mr. Palmer also indulged in farming. He owned a slave. 
This slave, who bore the name of Titus, was as well-known in 
his sphere as his master was in his. Between this Titus, or 
"Tite," as he was familiarly called, and his master there was 
a strong attachment; and the master treated the slave much 
as a companion, just as masters so often treated their more 
intelligent and characterful slaves farther south, down to year 
1865. Many anecdotes of the relations between Titus and his 
master were long told in Falmouth. They carried on their 
farming operations together, Titus being foreman in these 
operations and the minister a rather indifferent aid. The par- 
son was exceedingly fond of his pipe. Tite insisted that the 

*For these extracts touching Rev. Samuel Palmer's settlement at 
Falmouth, see Jenkins* Early History of the Town of Falmouth, pp. 
68, 72, 73' 

8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

pipe made the master absent-minded and consequently ineffi- 
cient They seem to have had their own way of doing things. 
For example, in plowing Titus was always at the helm, and 
gave the word of command to the minister who held the lines 
and drove the "team." The minister, whether under the in- 
fluence of his pipe, as Titus supposed, or under some other 
spell, would suffer his horses to deviate from a straight line, 
and leave a most irregular furrow. Titus would lose patience 
and shrilly exclaim, "Why, Marster, it seems you might do a 
little better." As Titus' reproofs were .very frequent, the 
neighbors enjoyed much laughing gossip about his "swearing 
at the minister." 

The Rev. Samuel Palmer had married Miss Mercy Parker, 
June I, 1736. By her he had three sons, the oldest, Thomas, 
the second, Joseph, and the third. Job, who removed to 
Charleston, S. C, and of whom we shall see more. Mr. 
Samuel Palmer's first wife dying, he married Miss Sarah 
Allen, in 1 75 1. By the two marriages he had eleven children. 

Nothing seems to have occurred to destroy the peace and 
harmony of the church during Mr. Palmer's ministry, which 
was closed by his death. He had been the faithful preacher 
and pastor for forty-five years in Falmouth. 

The death of this excellent man was a heavy affliction to 
his church and town. He died April 13, 1775. Two days later 
he was buried, after which a day of fasting and prayer was 
appointed on account of the affliction by which the people 
had been bereft of their pastor. The town in further appre- 
ciation of Mr. Palmer's services allowed to his widow and fam- 
ily the use of certain public lands.* The following epitaph 
may be read on his tombstone in the old cemetery at Falmouth, 
Mass.: "Here lies interred the Body of the Rev. Samuel 
Palmer, who fell asleep April ye 13th, 1775, in the 68th year 
of his age and 45th of his ministry. His virtues would a mon- 
ument supply. But underneath these clods his ashes lie." 

Job Palmer (1747-1845). 

Mr. Job Palmer was for years the patriarch 6i the city 
of Charleston, S. C. He was a "man that was perfect 

*We are indebted for this account of Mr. Samuel Palmer, also, to 
C. W. Jenkins' History of Falmouth, in the form of three lectures 
delivered in 1843. 

The Ancestors. 9 

and upright, one that feared God and eschewed evil." When 
ninety-three years of age he prepared a paper for his descen- 
dants, to which he made subsequent additions. In this docu- 
ment he gives the following clear account of his life: 

"I was born in Falmouth in the G)unty of Barnstable in Massa- 
chusetts, August 26 (15th new style), 1747. My father, Samuel 
Palmer, was pastor of the G>ngregational Church in that place. Ac- 
cording to my views of religion now, I believe that real, vital religion 
was very low in Falmouth at the time when I left it, particularly among 
young people. [The winters were given up "to frolic, dancing and 
card playing."] Falmouth was my stated home until the twenty-third 
year of my age. In March, 1770, I left home and went to the city 
of New York. I continued there a short time, then went up North 
River to New Windsor, then back in the country about twelve miles 
to a place called Wallkill. I remained in that place and in its vicinity, 
through the summer and winter, and formed acquaintance with some 
pious people, particularly with a Mr. Blair, a pious Presbyterian min- 
ister whose preaching I generally attended. There I believe I re- 
ceived the first real religious impressions, or convictions of sin, that 
I ever experienced, excepting under one sermon I heard from Dr. 
Rodgers before I left New York. Those impressions were repeated 
from time to time under the preaching of Mr. Blair, and some other 
ministers. And I have reasons to believe that that preaching and 
some other religious exercises have been the means by which the 
blessed Spirit of God, at first, aroused my conscience to a sense of 
my danger, and, I would humbly hope, has led me to embrace the 
Redeemer, as my only hope of salvation, through his atonement and 
righteousness, and his intercession for the pardon of my many sins 
and follies. 

"As I had no encouragement in my business to remain there, I re- 
turned to New York in the spring. Mr. Blair gave me a letter to Dr. 
Rodgers and his colleague, Mr. Trent. There my religious impres- 
sions were recommenced under preaching, and repeated frequently, 
and deepened. 

"On the first of December, 1771, I was admitted to communion 
in the Presbyterian Church. By the advice of some friends, I con- 
cluded to go to Charleston, S. C, with Rev. Mr. Tennent, who had 
accepted a call to the Congregational Church there. [This was Wil- 
liam Tennent, son of William Tennent, Jr., of Freehold, N. J. He 
soon wielded a commanding influence in Charleston in the pulpit and 
out of it- He was an active and flaming patriot. He "ably and 
effectively supported the Dissenting Petition, by a speech delivered 
in the House of Assembly, Charleston, January 11, 1777."] Dr. Rodgers 
and Mr. Trent gave me five letters to five persons, members of that 

lo Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

church (the Circular Church to which Mr. Tennent had been called)- 
These letters introduced me t6 the acquaintance of those persons, and 
I doubt not to the friendship of some of them. I was admitted to 
the first communion of that church after my arrival there. I ar- 
rived in Charleston in March, 1772. I pretty soon became acquainted 
with a number of the members of the church. In July, 1773, I was 
appointed clerk and sexton of the church and continued in the office 
until January, 1813 (thirty-nine years), when I resigned, and my son, 
Edward, was elected to supply my place. 

"On the 23rd of October, 1774, I united in marriage with Miss 
Sarah Morgan, of Bermuda, your dear mother — grandmother, to some 
of you. She was ever dear to me, although an infirm and weakly 
woman, much troubled with the asthmatic complaint which, I sup- 
pose, was finally the cause of her death on February 21, 1797." fOf 
this marriage, he says elsewhere: "We lived in harmony, and, I be- 
lieve, there were seldom any unkind words passed between us. We 
agreed in disposition. In respect to appearances in the world, neither 
of us was ambitious to make an appearance beyond what our cir- 
cumstances would warrant. I mention these minute circumstances 
because I have no doubt that had we possessed the ambition of many 
others, perhaps in no better circumstances than ourselves, with my 
expensive family, I might years ago have been peeping through the 
grate of a jail, or confined within its bounds. 

"You know," continues Mr. Palmer, "that the Revolutionary War 
commenced in the spring of 1775. From that time very little business 
was done in my line. I had some work on the fortifications, but from 
that time until Charleston was taken we had to rub pretty hard. 
After the fall of Charleston we carried on some work for several 
months. Then the British commander forbade all who would not 
take protection and acknowledge themselves British subjects, to do 
any mechanical business; and what we did was in a private way. 
In the spring of 1781, I, with a number of others, was put on board 
of a prison ship • in the harbor of Charleston, where we remained until 
a general exchange of prisoners took place. We were not allowed 
residence within the limits of British power. I then went with Mr. 
Thomas Legare and a number of others to Virginia, leaving our 
families in Charleston, intending to return by land and get them out. 
We returned to Camden and there heard that the British commander 
had obliged them to leave (Charleston. Your mother, in her weak 
state, had to worry about to procure passage to Philadelphia. A 
number of ladies hired a small vessel to carry them thither. They 

* Job Palmer's name occurs in the list of names on board the prison 
ship Torbay. The reader may see this list in McCrad/s South 
Carolina in the Revolution, pp. 358, 359, footnote. 

The Ancestors. • . ii 

arrived at Philadelphia on the nth of September, 1781. Fourteen 
days thereafter a child was born to us. On learning the destination 
of our families Mr. Legare and I set out for Philadelphia. 

"When I returned from Philadelphia with my family, in the spring 
of 1783, after the British had left Charleston, I was applied to by a 
lady to open a singing school in her house, to instruct her daughters 
and some other young ladies in vocal music. I did so, and con- 
tinued my school two afternoons in a week for a year or more. In 
the winter I opened an evening school for both sexes, two evenings 
in a week, and continued these schools in the winters, until the spring 
of 1788, when I, with my wife and one child, paid a visit to my 
friends in Falmouth, after an absence of eighteen years. Returning 
home in the fall, I taught a school for some winters afterward. The 
profits arising from these schools aided me considerably in the support 
of my family."] 

"On March 27, 1798, I was united in marriage with Mrs. Elsther 
Miller, aunt to some of you, to others great-aunt." [This lady was 
a sister to his first wife.] "She was an affectionate, tender wife to me, 
particularly in sickness, or any bodily distress. She departed this 
life June 16, 1832, a short time after the death of our daughter, Hetty 
Maria, by our marriage. 

"On the fourth of November, 1814, I was elected one of the deacons 
of our church and continued active in that office until and* including 
the celebration of the Lord's Supper in May, 1840, being then eight 
months in the ninety-third year of my age and the twenty-sixth year 
of my office as deacon. From that time I concluded to discontinue 
service at the Lord's table, unless there should be a deficiency of dea- 
cons at any time. Not that I was weary in serving my brothers and 
sisters in that ordinance; but I thought it proper for me to retire and 
let the younger deacons serve, of whom there was a sufficient num- 

DCla ... • 

"My dear descendants, I think you will believe that I have cause 
to feel a strong attachment to the church where I have performed the 
duty of clerk and sexton thirty-nine years, excepting the time the 
British army held possession of Charleston, in which I have been a 
deacon for twenty-six years, and in which I have enjoyed the priv- 
ileges of a member in full communion for sixty-eight years. 

"If I have discharged my duty faithfully in the situation I have 
occupied, I desire with gratitude to ascribe all the praise to God, 
who has disposed and enabled me thus to perform them. 

"Job Palmer, aged ninety-three years and six months, March, 

Mr. Job Palmer was deeply interested in the subjects of 
the deity of our Lord and the vicarious atonement. These 

12 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

doctrines were being condemned by many teachers, especially 
amongst the New England Congregationalists and their dis- 
ciples wherever found. Mr. Palmer was particularly concerned 
that his own children should never accept the Unitarian views. 
The vigorous old man set himself to gather the evidences from 
the Scriptures bearing on this question. He arranged long 
lists of Scripture passages under the three heads : First, those 
texts that bear positive testimony to the supreme deity of 
Christ; second, those that yield "collateral evidence thereof;" 
and, third, those which speak of his coming into the world 
by the Father's appointment and with his own free consent, 
fulfilling the law of God and so magnifying it and making 
it honorable, dying to make atonement for all those who em- 
brace him with true vital piety. He states that he has held 
this doctrine for sixty-three years, and sees no reason for the 
change, but that all his reading and reflection tend to fix him 
the more firmly in his faith in Christ's divinity. 

The preface of this remarkable paper is in the following 
words : 

"To my dear descendants who may see this paper after my death, 
I leave it and what it contains, as a memorial of my tender regard 
for them, and my earnest desire and prayer for their eternal wel- 
fare; and strongly recommend to them, and more especially to those 
of them, if any such there should be, who have doubts in their 
minds of the Supreme Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and of his 
suffering to make an atonement for sin, that they read the following 
passages of Scripture carefully, and prayerfully, that their minds 
may be led to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and 
that their hearts may be disposed to embrace it. 

"As it hath pleased Almighty God to prolong my life to the ad- 
vanced age of eighty-eight and to preserve to me my health and 
strength of body and other faculties of body and mind in so great a 
degree; and to give me the privilege, time, and disposition to read 
and search the Scriptures to discover the truth contained in them, it 
has been my desire and endeavor, while reading them, to select such 
passages from them as appeared to me sufficient evidence to establish 
the truth of certain doctrines, the belief of which appears to me, if 
not absolutely essential, yet very necessary for the salvation and 
comfort of those who are seeking salvation as they ought to do." 

The paper was apparently written first when he was eighty- 
six years of age; but was re-written, enlarged and strength- 
ened when he was eighty-eight. When it is remembered that 

The Ancestors. 13 

he wrought it without the aid of modem Bible study helps, 
it appears no mean piece of work. Without collegiate educa- 
tion, Mr. Palmer evidently made himself a man of no small 

His occupation was that of a contractor and builder. In 
this business, he succeeded in supporting in comfort his large 
family. He was the father of sixteen children. He was a 
splendid type of simple-minded integrity and Christian char- 
acter in the home and in the business world. Well may his 
posterity honor him. In the full possession of his faculties, 
almost to the last, he died at the age of ninety-seven. 

Two of his sons entered the ministry. One of them was the 
Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Sr. ^le was for many years 
pastor of the Circular (Independent) Church of Charleston. 
He was a man of learned and deep piety; dogmatic and con- 
servative; aggressive and masterful; somewhat of a pope in 
Charleston. But he was greatly beloved by his people. He 
was not without a glowing imagination and oratorical talent. 
His sermons, always written, were logical, concise and of a 
practical rather than a theoretical method. To the other min- 
isterial son we must give more attention. 

Rev. Edward Palmer (1788-1882). 

To Mr. Job Palmer was bom in the city of Charleston, 
S. C, December 25, 1788, a son who received the name of 
Edward. He was the eighth of sixteen children. He received 
an excellent English education, which was not entirely arrested 
when, at the age of fifteen, he was taken into his father's busi- 

Upon reaching the age of twenty-three he preferred to en- 
gage in teaching, which calling he pursued for nine years 
with profit and success. On the first of January, 1812, he was 
united in marriage with Miss Sarah Bunce. 

Though reared under the most favorable religious influences 
he did not make an early profession of faith* in Christ. As 
far back as his memory could reach he was the "subject of 
frequent and deep convictions of sin and guilt." On three 
occasions — in the fifteenth, twentieth, and twenty-second years 
of his life — "the great controversy was well-nigh closed in the 
final surrender of his heart to God." He continued vacillat- 
ing, nevertheless, "between hope and fear through succeeding 

14 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

years," until 1819; when, in his thirty-first year, he gave his 
testimony to wonder-working grace. This step involved an- 
other, that of "setting before others the great and glorious 
salvation." The manner of his call to the ministry may be 
related in his own words: 

"I was at the time stated a member of several societies^-one, a 
Musical Association; another a Young Men's Missionary Society — 
at which I had been called to deliver public addresses. On one of 
these occasions, Mr. Jonas King, afterwards a distinguished missionaiy 
to Greece, was present. At the close he accompanied me home, and 
in the course of conversation, asked me if I had ever thought of the 
ministry myself. I promptly replied: 'Look, my dear sir, at a fond 
wife and four lovely children, whom I am bound by every tender and 
holy tie to support, and then say whether that question can be 
asked.' To which he rejoined: *If the Lord shall call, he will pre- 
pare the way.' Rev. Dr. Porter, of Andover Seminary, being also in 
the city, sent for me; and, after a long and interesting interview, not' 
only encouraged the step, but imposed upon me the prayerful considera- 
tion of the matter; all of which culminated in my departure to the 
North in 1820." 

"The magnitude of this decision" begins to dawn on one 
when he recalls the fact that, though Mr. Palmer was thirty- 
two years old, he was ignorant of the Latin grammar; that 
his preparation for the ministry involved a four years* course 
of preparation, and a long separation from his family. See 
him then at this mature age amongst the boys at Phillips Acad- 
emy, Andover, Mass., for eighteen months. In September, 
182 1, he matriculated in the Seminary at Andover. So suc- 
cessful was he as a student during his years of preparation, 
that the faculty at Andover, without his knowledge of their in- 
tention, procured for him from Yale College the degree of 
Master of Arts. 

He was licensed in July, 1824, by a Congregational Asso- 
ciation, and in October of the same year, was ordained as an 
evangelist. * In the fall of 1824, he was installed pastor of the 
church at Dorchester, about eighteen miles from Charles- 
ton, by the Congregational Association which then existed on 
the sea-board of South Carolina; but which with a portion 
of Harmony Presbytery, was formed in 1827 into the Charles- 
ton Union Presbytery. After two years and a half in this 
pastorate, he removed to a wider sphere of labor at Walterboro, 
S. C. In the fall of 1831, he accepted a call to the Presb3rterian 

The Ancestors. 15 

Church at Stony Creek, in the District of Beaufort. There 
he remained until the year 1844, giving, however, toward the 
latter part of the period, a portion of his time to Walterboro. 
Returning to Walterboro in 1844, he served that field till 1855, 
then returned to Stony Creek which he served till 1861. Go- 
ing back again to Walterboro in 1861, he continued to serve 
that people till 1874, his eighty-sixth year. In this year led 
by a sore domestic bereavement he resigned his pastoral office 
and was, thenceforth, cared for by his children. He retained 
his vigor, physical and mental, well beyond his ninetieth year. 

Rarely has there been a man so much beloved within the 
circle of his acquaintances. He was loved by every class of 
society and by the representatives of every type of religious 
belief. He was an excellent preacher, a man of vast energy, 
singularly pure in his dispositions, and ever ready to go, like 
the Master, to the lowliest of the people with the everlasting 
Gospel. He was assiduous in his efforts in behalf of the 
African race. He was marked for the catholicity of his feel- 
ings in religion. 

In his first wife, Sarah Bunce, he had united himself with 
a lady of extraordinary capacities and character. 

Sarah Bunce. 

Sarah Bunce was the daughter of Captain Jared Bunce, 
who was born near Hartford, Conn., May 12, 1759. He used 
to say he could trace his ancestry back to an Alderman Bunce, 
who lived in London in the time of Cromwell. His mother 
was a Griswold and was connected with the Stanleys whose 
remote ancestor was Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby. Jared 
Bunce was a merchant in early life ; but failed in business and 
went to sea. He commanded the packet Gjcorgia, sailing 
between Philadelphia and Charleston, in both of which places 
he was well known and greatly beloved as an intelligent and 
remarkably cheerful Christian. Extant letters prove that he 
was a man of great independence and vigor of thought and 
expression. % February 11, 1779, he married Lydia Pettiplace 
(now called Pettis in New England), a woman revered by her 
acquaintances alike for her piety and her intellectual worth. 

The children of this couple seem to have been persons of 
the most lively and forceful intellectual and moral natures. 
Of their posterity have been Admiral F. M. Bunce, and his 

i6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

brothers, Edward and Jonathan. Three of Captain Jared 
Bunce's daughters married ministers: Mary Stanley Bunce 
married the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Sr. ; Sarah 
married the Rev. Edward Palmer, and Harriet the Rev. Allen 
Wright, a missionary to the Choctaws, These were all extra- 
ordinary women. Says Prof. Charles Woodward Hutson, 
a nephew : "Mrs. Wright I met twice, once as a boy ; and again 
as a young man in my last year at college. She was the 
tallest woman I ever saw, and of most commanding presence. 
When I first knew her, she delighted me with wondrous tales 
of Indian life and vividly narrated folk-lore, and with the sing- 
ing of hymns in Choctaw. On the later occasion I was almost 
constantly with her for the greater part of the summer, at Mar- 
ietta, Ga., in the house of her nephew, the Rev. Edward 
Porter Palmer ; and I have seldom met any one whose talk 
was more charming, whose literary taste was so pure and 
withal so enthusiastic. I have often wished that I had taken 
notes at the time of our conversation." 

Mrs. Sarah Bunce Palmer was born in her father's home, 
in Weathersfield, Conn. She was a woman of remarkably 
strong and vigorous mind. By degrees she gave herself, as 
we shall see, a very thorough education and large culture. 
She was a great reader and "a deep thinker," a woman of rare 
native refinement. She possessed moral nerve, as appears 
from the following, amongst other things related of her : When 
she was about fifteen years of age, her father had his home in 
Philadelphia. Her mother had died, and the father had mar- 
ried a second time. The stepmother was amiable but incapable 
of governing the younger children, as Sarah and her older sis- 
ter thought they ought to be governed. The father being ab- 
sent at sea, these sisters thought the two younger ones should 
be sent to Weathersfield, Conn., for schooling and training. 
The fifteen-year-old Sarah dressed herself so as to look as old 
as possible, donned a "poke-bonnet," amongst other articles in- 
dicative of the state of aged womanhood, and successfully car- 
ried her two younger sisters from Philadelphia to Weathers- 
field, accomplishing her journey in safety. She became noted 
for her exalted character and for her devotion to her duties as 
a pastor's wife. Along with her uncommon intellectual in- 
tensity and her strength of will, she had a sunny disposition 
and a love for the beautiful, which made her a general favorite, 
especially with the young. 

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The Ancestors. 17 

In physical appearance, she was a woman of medium height, 
slender, with a lofty and well-moulded brow, a penetrating, 
steel-blue eye, finely chiseled nose, firm mouth, flexible lips, 
strong but not stubborn chin. 

In the next chapter but one we shall see that Benjamin 
Morgan Palmer, her son, inherited much from the civilization 
into which he was born and amidst which he grew up, much 
from the Palmers, from his great-grandfather Samuel down, 
something from the Morgans, but most of all from his mother. 




"I AM A South Carounian, you Know." — The Distinguishing 
Features of South Carolina Qvil Life and Government. — ^Their 
Belt of Influence. — Their Source the Low Country. — This 
the Region in Which Young Palmer Grew up. — This Region 
Described Geographically and Historically. — ^The People of this 
Region. — Their Life on the Plantations and in the Summer 
Settlements. — ^Their Education, Libraries, and General Cul- 
ture. — Their Sports and Recreations. — Their Poutics. — The 
Moral and Religious Tone of the Community. 

1AM a South Carolinian, you know." Benjamin Morgan 
Palmer, in his mature years, was wont to make this state- 
ment from time to time, in explanation of views which he held 
and courses of action which he pursued. He thus evinced his 
consciousness of having adopted, and made his own, not a little 
from the distinguishing features of South Carolina civilization. 
And it is not unsafe to say that,- in his political views, in his 
social ideals, in his manners, in a certain quality of heroic 
daring, and in the persistent maintenance of his views against 
all comers, he soon became, and ever remained, a noble ex- 
ponent of much that was the best and highest in South Caro- 
lina civilization. Nor is there anything strange in this. His 
whole life, two or three years excepted, was spent within the 
sphere in which South Carolina ideals were dominant. The 
South Carolina type of civilization was a noble and impressive 
one; particularly impressive to one of ardent and imaginative 
temper, and the strong sense of justice, and absolute fearless- 
ness in its defence, by which he was characterized. That type 
of civilization had produced the finest fruits, he knew : men of 
the first water, men of thought and action, of knightly spirit, 
and of bearing heroic to the point of sublimity. 

However much alike the types of civilization in the several 
States of these United States may seem to the superficial for- 
eign observer, the close student amongst the home born knows 
that every State has had its own individual type of civilization. 

Features of the Civilization. '19 

a type "as distinct and persistent as that of the leading Greek 
cities." He knows, too, that amongst these States, three have 
possessed civilizations of marked and dominating individu- 
alities, viz.t Massachusetts, Virginia and South Carolina; and 
that, amongst these three, the South Carolina type stands out 
with especial distinctness, "with dauntless and defiant spirit, 
fiery temper, and venturesome diivalry." 

The distinctive South Carolina features of civil life and gov- 
ernment were a sentiment of independence in regard to the 
other states, "the centripetal character" of her government, 
the struggle between the aristocratic and democratic tenden- 
cies in the body itself, and the inviolability of the family rela- 

Her sentiment of independence in regard to the other states 
had been bred of her history. The colony of South Carolina 
was from her planting, in 1670, to 1733, when Oglethorpe es- 
tablished his colony of Georgia, the lonely and remote out- 
post between the other English colonies, and, on the one hand, 
the Spaniards at St. Augustine, and on the other, the French 
toward the Mississippi. Planted to assert the dominion of 
Great Britain against that of Spain in disputed territory, the 
immigrants had not yet settled on the Ashley when the Span- 
iards appeared and gave notice that the colony must fight for 
its existence. "France, also, advancing her claims to the ter- 
ritory eastward of the Mississippi and northward of Mobile, 
was disputing the westward limits of Carolina. The Indian 
tribes, with whom the Spaniards and French alike coalesced 
with greater facility than did the English colonists, presented 
the ready means of continual though unavowed hostility, and 
circumscribed the advance of the colony not only by open war- 
fare, but by the dread of the hireling savage." ^ For safety 
against Spanish, French and Indians, coming singly or in com- 
bination, the colony of South Carolina had to depend on itself, 
for the most part. In the Great Indian War of 171 5, North 
Carolina and Virginia gave indeed, little and feeble assistance. 
South Carolina down to the Revolutionary War, continued to 
fight her battles with relatively little outside help. The first 

* These characteristics are ably illustrated by McCrady in his great 
work on South Carolina colonial history. 

* McCrady, History of South Carolina under the Proprietary Gov^ 
emment, pj). 683, 684. 

20 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

British soldiers seen in the province of South Carolina, with 
the exception of Oglethorpe's regiment which had been 
raised by him for special service in Georgia, were those un- 
der Colonel Archibald Montgomery, sent in 1760 to aid in 
the war against the Cherokees, She had swept her coasts of 
pirates also, largely by the strategy and tactics, the daring and 
valor of her own men. During the Revolutionary struggle, her 
chief, and at times, only succorers were her own people, who 
developed an ability to endure and a skill and persistence in 
partisan warfare which has rarely been equalled in the annals 
of any people, and which unnerved and wore away the armies 
of her invaders. During this period she often feared that she 
had been utterly abandoned by the States to the north. Not 
without considerable assistance indeed, but largely by her own 
exertions, she achieved her own sovereign independence; and 
in the process of doing so had given vast encouragement and 
help to her sister States in their struggles. So circumstanced 
throughout most of her history as to be under the stern neces- 
sity of taking care of herself, she had responded to the neces- 
sity and had in doing so wrought into the very fiber of her 
being the sentiment of independence with reference to all other 
political bodies. 

In like manner this sentiment had been impressed by the con- 
flict with the Proprietary Government which had ended in suc- 
cessful revolutions on the part of the colonists and their over- 
throw of that government ; and by the unceasing conflict there- 
after with the royal government in behalf "of those natural 
rights that we all feel and know as men and as descendants 
of Englishmen." Not unnaturally, the provocations being 
great, about the time young Palmer wakes into vigorous men- 
tal life, we shall find Nullification running high in South Caro- 
lina. Not unnaturally, the provocations being great, about the 
time he reaches his early prime, we shall find Secession an 
accomplished fact; and that he himself is an outspoken and 
determined secessionist. Both facts are the outcome of the 
history of earlier South Carolina. 

The centripetal character of the government is another dis- 
tinguishing mark of South Carolina civilization. It also was 
induced by the treatment of the colony by the mother country, 
and by her isolation and exposure to invasion from all sides. 
In Virginia the colonial growth was by rural communities. 
There was no city, or town, life. In New England the colo- 

Features of the Civilization. 21 

nists separated early into different towns, but in South Caro- 
lina the ever-impending danger of invasion by Spaniards, In- 
dians, and French, "restricted the colonists for many years to 
distances within reach of Charlestown." 

"When this danger was overcome by the increase of the population, 
and the founding and building up of the colony of Georgia, the un- 
healthfulness of the country along the river, increased, if not caused 
by the disturbance of the soil and the stagnant water of rice planting 
in the inland swamps, compelled the planters to reside in the summer 
in the town or in some high resinous pine land settlement apart, as 
they thought, from malaria. Thus, until the immigration of the 
Scotch-Irish and Virginians into the upper cotmtry by way of the 
mountains, from 1750 to 1760, the development of the colony was from 
one point, the circle enlarging as the population increased, but always 
with reference to the one central point, — the town — Charles Town. 

"The development of Carolina thus presented the anomaly that, 
though it was a planters' colony, it was developed by way of city, or 
town, life. Boston was the largest town in Massachusetts, but there 
was organization and administration outside of it. For many years 
Charles Town practically embodied all of Carolina. Beaufort, the next 
town to be settled, was not attempted for more than forty years after 
the planting of the colony and Georgetown not until some years later. 
Until 1716 elections were generally held in the town for all the 
province, and representation outside of it — ^that by parishes — ^was not 
practically established until the overthrow of the proprietary govern- 
ment in 1719. No court of general jurisdiction was held outside of 
it until 1773, over a hundred years after the establishment of the 
colony. There was only one government for the province, the town 
and the church. The same General Assembly passed laws for the 
province, laid out streets, regulated the police for the town, and 
governed the church. Even after the colony had grown, and the upper 
country had been peopled from another source, every magistrate in 
the province was appointed in Charles Town until the Revolution of 
1776, and after that, upon the adoption of the Constitution of 1790 
and the change of the seat of government to Columbia, at that 
place. There was thus from the inception of the colony in 1665 to the 
overthrow of the State in 1865, for two hundred years only one 
g^ovemment in South Carolina. There was no such thing as a county 
or township government of any kind."' 

In the facts, that the controlling element of the original 
South Carolina settlers was from Barbadoes, and that under 

■McCrady, History of South Carolina under the Proprietary Gov- 
ernment, p. 7. 

22 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Yeamans, it brought with it a colonial system which had at its 
basis the institution of African slavery, and that upon this 
social order an attempt was made to engraft "a legally recog- 
nized aristocracy of Landgraves and Caciques, proposed by 
Locke and adopted by the Proprietors under the influence of 
Shaftsbury," we have the occasions of the emergence of an- 
other marked trait of South Carolina civilization, — "a strongly 
aristocratic tone with a party for sustaining prerogative," 
and on the other hand from the very outset "a party of the 
people who based their rights upon the dogma of a strict con- 
struction of chartered or constitutional provisions." We shall 
find that Palmer, like the dominant party of his state, was a 
strict constructionist. 

Again, the hostility of the Spaniards, the French and the 
Indians, "necessitated, from the beginning, a military organ- 
ization of the people." This was made the more necessary by 
the increasing number of negro slaves, — savages, — ^a source 
of weakness in time of danger, for a long period, till the insti- 
tution became thoroughly settled, a constant source "of care 
and anxiety." The colonists were long afraid of a negro ris- 
ing on occasion of a war with the Spanish, French, or Indians. 
Under these spurs a military police organization of the whole 
people was effected, and "continued from 1704 until the eman- 
cipation of the negroes as the result of the war of secession." 

"Under this system the province, and afterwards the state, was 
divided into military districts, the chief of each of which was a 
colonel, and these again into other districts, or beats, under captains. 
The captain was the police officer of his district, or beat, and was 
charged with the patrol and police of his beat and the enforcement 
of the regulations in regard to slaves. The regimental and company 
military precincts were thus coincident with the police districts and 
the two formed one system. . . . This system gave a military 
organization to the people which was much more effective and 
exacting than ordinary militia enrollment and muster. So imbued was 
the system of government brought from Barbadoes with a military 
spirit that the high sheriff of the province retained the military title 
of 'provost-marshal' for a hundred years — indeed, until the American 
Revolution. To this source may be traced the prevalence of military 
titles in the South, as that of 'judge,' or 'squire' in other communities, 
indicating persons of local consequence."* 

*McCrady, History of South Carolina under the Proprietary Gov- 
ernment, p. 10. 

Features of the Civilization. 23. 

The inviolability of the family relation is another feature of 
South Carolina civilization. Her people have recognized that 
the family is the strength of the State. They have done all in 
their power to uphold its integrity and to minister to its purity 
and power. There never has been a divorce in South Carolina 
except during the Reconstruction period after the war between 
the sections, when the government was in the hands of carpet- 
baggers and negroes. There is but one case reported in her 
law books, "and that was during that infamous rule." Some 
South Carolinians think that this devotion to the purity of the 
family has been rewarded by many long lines of illustrious 
men of the same blood. 

These principles prevailed to a greater or less degree far 
beyond the bounds of South Carolina. There have been three 
great belts of influence reaching across the territory of these 
United States: One dominated by Massachusetts, one domin- 
ated by Virginia, and one dominated by South Carolina. In 
the days of secession South Carolina was quickly followed by 
the states of her belt. 

In South Carolina itself, these principles had had their source 
in the low country, which had been settled, and in which civil 
government had been established long before the upper coun- 
try was inhabited by white men. Indeed, the upper country, 
when at length settled by the Scotch-Irish and Englishmen 
from Virginia, would have welcomed a less "centripetal" gov- 
ernment; but hindered in their desires by office holders non- 
resident in the colony, this, with the other characteristics of 
the government developed by low country conditions, became a 
fixed feature of the state as a whole. 

Young Benjamin Morgan Palmer grew up in the low coun- 
try, in the very well-spring of the distinctive features of the 
South Carolina civilization ; and when he said, "I am a South 
Carolinian, you know," he probably meant that he was a South 
Carolinian of the low country type ; that he had drawn in with 
the maternal milk not only the great distinctive features of 
the civilization of the State as a whole but the peculiarities 
of this primal region of the colony and the State. Hence it 
is necessary to go somewhat more closely into the mode of 
life of this particular section. 

Bom 'in Charleston, he grew up there, at Dorchester, about 
twenty miles away near the head of the Ashley river, at Wal- 
terboro, which was originally a summer settlement for planters 

24 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of the Combahee and Ashepoo, and in the neighborhood of 
McPhersonville, or in that village itself, which is situated 
about four or five miles from the present railway junction of 
Yemassee. As the most critical and impressive years of his 
youth were passed in the McPhersonville neighborhood, and as 
there he was in the midst of the most typical low country 
South Carolina life, we must content ourselves with a sketch 
of this neighborhood. 

Geographically • this region consisted of peninsulas formed 
by the rivers Combahee, Pocotaligo, TuUifinny and Coosa- 
whatchie. The topographical features which most impressed 
the traveler were the salt marshes, toward the coast, sometimes 
running far back; the frequent rivers, really inlets of the sea; 
the vast rice plantations, graded and cut into fields by skilled 
engineers, the back water gathered and husbanded on "re- 
serves" big as the rice-fields themselves, for the watering of 
the rice fields during certain periods ; the numerous causeways 
across the rice-planting areas ; the lands back of the rice fields 
too high for that industry, and hence devoted to cotton and 
corn; beyond them the "pine-lands," sandy ridges where the 
long-leafed pine grew, and the flatness of the whole country. 

The region was rich in historical associations. Pocotaligo 
village, about four miles from McPhersonville, was the scene 
of the first stage of the terrible massacre which began at day- 
break on the 15th of April, 1715, when the Yemassees slaught- 
ered more than ninety persons in that village and on adjacent 
plantations. The surrounding country was the scene of the 
Yemassee war which immediately followed, and in which a 
young stripling named Palmer won honor. 

In May, 1779, Moultrie had retreated through this region, 
before General Prevost Moultrie had suffered discomfiture 
in a portion of his force under Colonel John Laurens in the 
affair of TuUifinny Hill. The British had encamped at Poco- 
taligo. Here they had erected Fort Balfour, in which patri- 
otic South Carolinians of the neighborhood had been impris- 
oned. In this general region William Harden, the patriot, and 
the skilful partisan leader, had accomplished some of his val- 

* For the sketch of this neighborhood we have received the materials 
from Prof. Charles Woodward Hutson, College Station, Texas, who 
was born and bred in the neighborhood himself. We have made free 
use of his language as well as of his matter. 

Features of the Civilization. 25 

orous deeds in his country's cause ; amongst other things cap- 
turing Fort Balfour. Young Benjamin Palmer may have 
looked on an ancient oak, which was standing at the beginning 
of the war between the sections, and which stood some paces 
beyond the little hillock that marked the spot where one of the 
bastions of the fort had stood. It "was pointed out to younger 
generations as that in the hollow of which at its base the be- 
sieged had stored a cask of gunpowder, on which they were 
to draw at need when their powder horns should give out." 
Earlier in the Revolutionary War, a young Tory, Andrew 
De Vaux, in order to commit his followers irrevocably, had 
ravaged General Stephen Bull's plantation and burned Shel- 
don church, in what is now Beaufort county. After brilliant 
and perilous personal adventures he had risen to the rank of 
Major in the Royal Militia; and in the days of Harden's 
exploits De Vaux was making brilliant counter strokes from 
the Stono to beyond the Georgia line. 

As to the living people of the region, by far the most nu- 
merous portion was that of the African slaves. While re- 
garded as in some respects the personal property of their mas- 
ters they were regarded and treated by no means as ordinary 
chattels. The slave code, Barbadian in its origin, received 
various amendments till 1740, when it took on the form main- 
tained substantially till the abolition of the institution in 1865. 
The amendments of 1740 have been summarized as follows 
by McCrady:* 

"A penalty of £5 currency was imposed on any person who employed 
a slave in any work or labor (work for necessary occasions of the 
family only excepted) on the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday. 
The selling of strong liquor to slaves was prohibited. Slaves were 
to be provided with sufficient clothing, covering, and food, and in case 
any owner or person in charge of slaves neglected to make such 
provision the neighboring justice, upon complaint, was required to in- 
quire into the matter, and if the owner or person in charge failed to 
exculpate himself the justice might make such orders for the relief of 
the slave as in his discretion he should think fit. 

''And because, it was said, by reason of the extent and distance of 
plantations in the province the inhabitants were far removed from each 
other, and many cruelties might be committed upon slaves, it was 
provided that if any slave should suffer in life or limb, or be beaten 
or abused contrary to the direction of the act, when no white person 

• McCrady, South Carolina under the Royal Government, pp. 230, 231. 

26 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

was present, or, being present, refused to give evidence, the owner 
or person in charge of such slave should be deemed to be guilty of 
the offence, unless he made the contrary appear by ^ood and suf- 
ficient evidence, or by his own oath cleared and exculpated himself. 
This oath was to prevail if clear proof of the offence was not made by 
at least two witnesses. In case of alleged cruelty to a slave in the 
absence of white witnesses, the burden of proof was with the person 
making the charge, while the oath of the party charged might excul- 
pate him unless against the oath of two white witnesses. It was 
something at least that the owner was called upon to show his inno- 
cence. Owners were prohibited from working slaves more than fifteen 
hours in the twenty-four from the 2Sth of March to the 25th of Sep- 
tember, or more than fourteen hours in the twenty-four from the 
2Sth of September to the 2Sth of March." 

McCrady adds that this slave code was so amended in 1821, 
"that if anyone should murder a slave he should suffer death 
without the benefit of the clergy, and if anyone should kill a 
slave in a sudden heat and passion he should be fined not ex- 
ceeding $500.00 and be imprisoned not exceeding six months." 
We shall see that the treatment of the slave was better than the 

There were grades amongst these negroes, the individual's 
standing in the social scale being determined in part by the 
social standing of his master in his sphere, and in part by the 
native endowments with which he was bom, and in part by 
his occupation. There was a big step between the house ser- 
vants and those of the fields, brought about by the following 
causes: The negroes generally were fed on wholesome and 
nutritious food, suitably but coarsely clothed. They were, in 
the main, a contented and even a joyous people. But those in 
domestic service had been selected from the most intelligent, 
best behaved, and most teachable of all the slaves owned by 
the master. They were usually the offspring of tribes higher 
than those that furnished the bulk of imported Africans ; and 
they had, by this time, been in hereditary close contact with 
ladies and gentlemen long enough to acquire good manners, 
and in some cases, good morals. They had enjoyed the further 
advantage over their fellows of going through the annual 
change of climate and surroundings along with their masters 
and mistresses. They had grown up the playmates of white 
children and between them and their owners there was a spe- 

Features OF the Civilization. tj 

cial warmth of affection bred of kindness and service on the 
one hand and service on the other. 

Above the slaves in social privileges were a class of poor 
whites, overseers, small mechanics, and the posterity of in- 
dentured .servants and ex-convicts, human driftwood. This 
was a small class and from the stabler and more virile elements 
of this class men were rising to the higher class. Of these 
poor whites relatively few could vote when elections were 
held, on account of the property qualifications conditioning 
the exercise of the privilege of franchise. 

Above these were the planters, sprung of good stock, and 
a stock that had risen superior to all the difficulties incident 
to settling a new country surrounded by hostile enemies. 
These low country planters were the posterity of Englishmen, 
Barbadians, Nova Belgians (as the New Yorkers prior to their 
conquest by England were called). Huguenots, Irish, Jamai- 
cans, Swiss and Germans. There were intermingled in them 
the aggressive and persistent energy of the Anglo-Saxon, the 
shrewdness of the Barbadian, the enduring strength of the 
Dutchman, and the gentle manners, the gallantry, the frugality 
and the religious tone of the Huguenots. 

The people owning lands in the McPhersonville region were 
Screvens, McPhersons, Martins, Hutsons, DeSaussures, Ful- 
lers, Elliotts, Gregories, Mackays, Jenkinses, Heywards, Cuth- 
berts, Maines, Barnwells, Storeys, Stuarts, Middletons, Mar- 
ions, Giguilliots, De Vaux, and Videaus. 

Amongst the planters there developed an aristocracy chiefly 
of wealth and culture. Tradition has done somewhat toward 
connecting this aristocracy with the European aristocracies, 
but there seems to have been little connection, as a matter of 
fact The South Carolina aristocracy developed under local 
conditions. The aristocracy of family came after that of 
wealth, culture and public service. 

Notwithstanding the differences in the standings of differ- 
ent citizens of South Carolina, they constituted a people of 
beautiful manners. As far back as 1770 William Gerrard de 
Brahan, surveyor for the Southern District of North America, 
wrote of South Carolina: "A society of men (which in religion, 
govenmient and negotiation avoids whatever can disturb peace 
and quietness) will always grow and prosper; so will this 
city and Province whose inhabitants were from its beginning 
renowned for Concord, compleasance, courteousness, and ten- 

28 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

demess toward each other, and more so toward foreigners, 
without regard or respect for nation or religion." ' 

In colonial days the planters had affected English modes of life. 
^Their households continued to be organized on the English model/' 
says McCrady, "except in so far as it was modified by the institution of 
slavery, which modification was chiefly in the number of servants. In 
every well organized planter's household there were three high posi- 
tions, the objects of ambition of all the negroes on the plantation. 
These were the butler, the coachman, and the patroon. The butler 
was chief of all about the mansion; usually the oldest negro manser- 
vant on the premises, his head was often white, the contrast of which 
with his dark skin was striking, and added much to the dignity which 
it was always his care and pride to maintain. His manner was 
founded on that of the best of the society in which his master moved, 
and withal he possessed much greater ease than is usual in a white 
man occupying the same position. He became an authority upon mat- 
ters of table etiquette, and was quick to detect the slightest breach of 
it He considered it a part of his duty to advise and lecture the 
young people of the family upon the subject. He often had entire 
charge of the pantry and storeroom keys and was usually faithful to 
his trust. He was somewhat of a judge, too, of the cellar; but there 
are stories which indicate that it was scarcely safe to allow him free 
access to its contents. The coachman, to the boys of the family, at 
least, was scarcely less a character than the butler. He had entire 
charge of the stable and took the utmost pride in the horsemanship 
of his young masters, to whom he had given the first lessons in 
riding. The butler might be the greatest man at home; but he had 
never the glory of driving the family coach and four down the great 
"Path" to town and through its streets. The oldest plantations were 
upon the rivers; a water front, indeed, and a landing were essential 
to such an establishment, for it must have the periago for plantation 
purposes, and the trim sloop and large cypress canoes for the master's 
use. So, beside the master of the horse, — the coachman, — ^there was a 
naval officer, too, to each plantation household, and he was the pa- 
troon — a name no doubt brought from the West Indies. The patroon 
had charge of the boats, and the winding of his horn upon the river 
told the family of the master's coming. He, too, trained the boat 
hands to the oar and taught them the plaintive, humorous, happy 
catches which they sang as they bent to the stroke, and for which the 
mother of the family often strained her ears to catch the first sound 
which told of the safe return of her dear ones. Each of these head 
servants had his underlings, over whom he lorded it in imitation of 

^Quoted in McCrady, History of South Carolina under the Royal 
Government, p. 394. 

Features of the Civilization. 29 

his master. The house was full, too, of maids and seamstresses of all 
kinds, who kept the mistress busy, if only to find employment for so 
many hands. Outside the household the driver was the great man. Under 
his master's rule he was absolute. He was too great a man to work 
himself, and if his master was anybody — that is, if the plantation was 
of respectable size, with a decent number of hands, he must have a 
horse to ride, for how else could he oversee all of his people? The 
"driver" was the executive officer. He received his orders from his 
master, and he carried them out. He did all the punishing. When 
punishment was necessary, he inflicted it under his master's orders. He 
was responsible for the administration of the plantation. A plantation 
was a community in itself. It had its necessary artisans. There 
must be carpenters, blacksmiths, coopers, tailors, and shoemakers, for 
there were no ready-made shoes and clothes in those days. Then 
there was a hospital for the sick and a house for the children while 
the mothers were at work All these required thorough organization 
and complete system. There were no doubt many and great evils 
inseparable from the institution of slavery, but these were reduced to 
a minimum on a South Carolina plantation. Generally the slaves were 
contented and happy, and shared in the prosperity which their labors 

on the rice fields were bringing to their masters."* 


The early planters had, in some cases, modeled their homes 
after London houses, or English country seats ; but the climate 
rendered these unsuitable. They began very soon to build 
houses so as to secure ventilation and gallery space. Only an 
occasional planter attempted a pretentious residence. Most of 
them were content with rather plain story-and-a-half, or two- 
story houses of any convenient style of architecture. Perhaps 
the commonest starting plan was that with a room on either 
side of a central hallway with a staircase running to the floor 
above. Wings and lean-to sheds were added on demand, 
convenience and the breezes permitting. Other buildings about 
"the big house" were the kitchen, the spinning room, the iron- 
ing room, the wash house, the dairy, the poultry house, the 
smoke house where the meats were cured and salted down, 
sausages hung, and candles made and stored away, the com 
house where the distribution of "allowances" was weekly made 
by the "driver" under the master's superintendence. Beyond 
these were the stables and the carriage houses, and beyond 
these, the negro quarters, each cabin having assigned to it a 

• McCrady, South Carolina under the Royal Government, pp. 515, 
S16, 517. 

30 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

plot of ground on which the family might raise chickens, or 
bees, or cultivate a garden for his own use. Amongst the 
cabins was a house where the children were "minded" when 
their mothers went to work. There was a hospital for the 
sick or injured, with a nurse of experience whose labors and 
skill the "Ole Miss" usually supplemented, and which was vis- 
ited by the doctor, who was paid so much per year for looking 
after the health of the whole body of slaves. Beyond all these, 
again, were the barn and cotton-spinning room, die seed house, 
the carpenter's shop, blacksmith's forge, and butcher's pen, 
where black mechanics did the work, sometimes supervised 
and assisted by a journeyman workman who had been em- 
ployed for a season. Nearer to the house and flanking the 
lawn front and back were the flower garden and vegetable gar- 
den and the orchards. The master of a large plantation had 
need of a head for executive ability equal to those of our cap- 
tains of industry to-day ; and "Ole Miss" needed an equal 
ability in superintending the work of manufacturing garments 
for the vast household from crude materials; in storing these 
against the day of need; in looking after the servants in the 
mansion, keeping them up to their work, preventing waste and 
slovenliness ; in looking after the health of the whole establish- 
ment, — ^binding, this minute, the lacerated foot of a great man 
slave, the next visiting a mother that had just borne a child, 
the next looking after some old fellow witih the rheumatism, 
or the hypochondria; in rearing her own children, teaching 
them not only the ordinary virtues but how to serve such com- 
munities as she served, entertain company with the grace and 
charm of manner bred of a self-sacrificing spirit, etc. 

The plantations in this region were early found to be un- 
healthful for white people during the summer months. In the 
early days the planters had resorted, accordingly, to Charles- 
ton, to Beaufort, or to other places on the seashore, during 
the time between the last frost of spring and the first frost of 
autumn. But in the generation preceding young Palmer's 
day it had been found that residences a few miles back from 
the river bottoms, on the low ridges covered by the long-leafed 
pines, were as healthful as those in Charleston. Thus had Wal- 
terboro and McPhersonville and other summer retreats been 
established. The necessity for this migration from the plan- 
tation had its advantages as well as its disadvantages. If 
the master's absence from the plantation militated against his 

Features of the Civilization. 31 

prosperity, it brought him into close contact with other refined 
and cultivated men. Nor were the planting interests as materi- 
ally interfered with, when he moved to the summer settlement, 
as might be supposed, for ''one of the conditions of a site of 
a summer settlement was that it should be in reach of the plan- 
tation, of not less than a day's journey to and from, allowing a 
sufficient time for a supervision of the place. These summer 
resorts thus became social centers, collections of people of 
wealth, and during the summer, of leisure ; for it so happened 
that during the summer there was little to be done on the 

The summer homes were mere camps, small one-story 
houses with plenty of porch space; as to size, as small as the 
necessities of the family and guests permitted. They were gen- 
erally built of undressed lumber. A great continental uni- 
versity cannot be judged by its buildings: these summer set- 
tlements were wonderful villages notwithstanding, the homely 
dwellings; the formalities of polite life were observed with 
scrupulous care. 

In these villages would be found one or two churches, a 
school for boys and a school for girls, taught sometimes 
by ministers of the gospel, sometimes by life-long teachers, 
and sometimes by young graduates of colleges and universi- 
ties, who, after a few terms of teaching, would enter on 
the profession of law or medicine, or on the vocation of a 
minister. The school would be kept up the year around, 
for the sake of the ministers' families and those planters 
who preferred to keep their children in the village during 
the winter, under the care of a maiden aunt, or some other 
female relative, to sending them to a distant school, or pro- 
viding tutors at home, or making some other shift to school 
them. Sometimes for the sake of its advantages the planter 
would keep his whole family in the village throughout the year. 

The South Carolina planter was very particular about the 
education of his family, and particularly his sons. It is proba- 
bly true that they had as high an average of education as any 
set of gentlemen in the United States. The planter expected to 
send his son from the village school to college or university. 
Hci might not care to see him become a lawyer, a doctor, or 
a preacher, but he hoped very earnestly to see him a man of 
generous education, and ready, after a little special training, 
for any of the professions. A fair percentage of their sons be- 

32 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

came graduates. The love of learning in the days of young 
Palmer was no new thing. While the conditions in South Car- 
olina forbade the growth, in the eighteenth century, of the 
common school which sprang up in the New England colonies, 
it may be safely said that in no province was there more pro- 
vision made by the wealthy for the education of the poor. In 
his "Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century," Dr. Samuel Miller, 
of Princeton, expresses the belief that the learned languages, 
especially the Greek, were less studied in the Easteriji States 
than in the Southern and Middle States. "The reason he as- 
signs is that owing to the superior wealth of the individuals 
in the latter States, more of their sons were educated in Eu- 
rope, and brought home with them a more accurate knowledge 
of the classics." "In a list of Americans admitted as members 
of the Inns of Court in London in the twenty-five years from 
1759 to 1786, recently published, South Carolina contributes 
more than any other State. Out of one hundred and fourteen 
names on the list, there are forty-six Carolinians, twenty Vir- 
ginians, fifteen Marylanders, three Georgians, and one North 
Carolinian, making eighty-five Southerners, three fourths of 
the whole." ® The love of learning which had characterized 
her people in colonial days remained with her throughout the 
first half of the nineteenth century. 

The contemporaries of young Palmer resorted to the great 
colleges of New England, to Princeton, to the University of 
Virginia, the University of Georgia, or to the College of South 
Carolina, at Columbia, the State's own excellent institution. 
Their sisters received excellent private teaching, or were placed 
in good seminaries. 

The common love of the South Carolinians for reading is 
probably evinced in the establishment of a public library in 
1698 — "the first public library" it is believed, "to be established 
in America." In young Palmer's time there were many fine 
private libraries in the State, and many more families possessed 
quite respectable libraries, the gradual gatherings of genera- 
tions of readers. "Pope's poems and Fielding's novels sat side 
by side with Newton's 'Cardiphonia.' Neel's 'History of the 
Puritans' elbowed Scott's romances." 

South Carolinians, like true Englishmen, were devoted to 

• McCrady, History of South Carolina under the Royal Government, 
pp. 475, 476. 

Features of the Civilization. 33 

field sports. They rode from their infancy. In the Chick- 
asaws they had a good breed of horses, which was greatly im- 
proved by crossing with English blooded horses. Great atten- 
tion was paid to the breeding of horses ; and they were trained 
to two gaits, walking and cantering. The saddle horses were 
excellent hunters, and would seldom hesitate to take a six- 
rail fence at a leap. The boys and girls learned to ride on 
tackies, which, though small, were active, enduring and easy 
gaited. The low country was not suited for fox-hunting, it 
was too cut up with creeks, marshes and swamps. The great 
sport was deer hunting. The clubs met early in the day. The 
hounds, usually in charge of a negro, soon found the scent 
and with full cry began the chase. Their baying was the most 
exhilarating music to the ears of the huntsman. They knew 
the country and the habits of the deer and would take their 
stands at certain places, and the deer, unless brought down 
at the earlier stands would run the gauntlet of many guns.^® 

To the boys on the plantations the dearest place was the 
"back-water,*' the partly artificial reservoir for storing water 
wherewith to flood the rice fields at stated seasons. Here 
was his best chance for shooting wild ducks, if he got there 
just at day dawn on some cold, frosty morning. From its dam's, 
too, under some spreading wild mulberry or dogwood, he 
could fish to his heart's content, and if the plantation were one 
of those on salt water, tie could fish, or crab, or get raccoon 
oysters, with the aid of a bait. 

The people were as fond of indoor amusements as of field 
sports. Hence they cultivated music and the knowledge of 
games of various sorts. These could be indulged in even in 
the summer homes; and there also, if there was less for the 
boy in the way of outdoor sports, and more required in the 
way of dress and attendance on school, he could at least en- 
joy the cavalcades, "in which there was just as much cere- 
mony in inviting a partner for the ride and sticking faith- 
fully to her side, as if it had been a dance in which the same 
couple were partners from first to last." 

On these cavalcades, on which many matches are said to 
have been made, and in frequent parties at the different 
homes the young people found their chief opportunities for 
intercourse. At the parties, which were regular affairs, there 


cf. McCrady, Ibid., pp. 517, ff. 

34 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

was not only the means of gratifying the taste for amusement 
but that of the palate, though the fare in the stmimer village 
could never quite compare with that in the plantation house. 
To illustrate from the substantial of the feast: in the summer 
settlement wheat waffles, rice waffles, wheat loaf-bread, rice 
loaf-bread, biscuits, johnny cakes, muffins, pancakes, domestic 
fowls, beef, and mutton, vegetables in season, etc., could be 
commanded; but at the plantation in the winter, in addition 
to all these, wild turkey, venison, wild duck and the fruit of the 
sea, for if the master or a son were not good with the gun and 
rod, there was always a crack shot on the plantation freely 
supplied with gun and ammunition in order that his master's 
table might be improved, and more than one successful fisher- 
man. The people generally lived plentifully and well. Theirs 
was in no sense a somber life. 

Political excitement has been a frequent feature of South 
Carolina. The excitement ran high in young Palmer's day. 
South Carolina, along with a number of other States, held that 
the power to levy duties on imports, not with a view to reve- 
nue, but to protect and aid particular classes, was not delegated 
to Congress. An odious, because discriminating, tariff had 
been borne while it was necessary in order to the payment of 
of the public debt. But when the debt had been paid and a 
large surplus was accumulating in the national treasury, the 
State demanded that the tariff should l^e conformed to the need 
for revenue. The demand was refused, the robbery wrought 
by the protective tariff continued, and continued to exasperate 
the South. The great leaders in South Carolina, Calhoun, 
Haynes, McDuffie and others, had recourse to a measure justi- 
fiable only on the ground that it was a warning that secession 
would follow it, if it proved ineffective. "She interposed her 
prerogative as a sovereign State, to judge, in the last resort, 
in all questions affecting her own rights, restraining the gen- 
eral govenmient from collecting this revenue within her lim- 
its.' It was not ineffective. Congress passed the "Force Bill," 
clothing the President with the power necessary to enforce the 
collection, and for this purpose putting at his disposal all the 
land and naval forces. But for some such instrumentality as 
that of Mr. Qay, in his famous Compromise Act, which yielded 
the principle of protection while providing "a gradual reduc- 
tion of duties, and that at the expiration of ten years, twenty 
per cent, ad valorem should be established as the uniform 

Features of the Civilization. 35 

rate/' there had been a collision. While some strong men op- 
posed it, the prevailing sentiment of the people of the State de- 
manded Nullification ; and the low country, with the exception 
of a party in Charleston under the lead of Mr. Petigru, was al- 
most unanimously in favor of Nullification and profoundly 
convinced of the right of secession. As time wore on they 
conceived that secession was a duty. 

We shall have occasion to note in the sequel that young 
Palmer was, in the days of his youth, drinking in the views 
of the great political thinkers of the State. 

The moral and religious tone of this region of the low coun- 
try was excellent during these decades. Horse-racing, gam- 
bling and hard drinking had prevailed to a considerable ex- 
tent in early colonial times. Nor had these habits been up- 
rooted by the preaching of Whitefield, though they had been 
checked. But providences connected with the Revolutionary 
War, the work of evangelical ministers of all denominations 
and particularly the revivals under the Rev. Daniel Baker 
about 183 1, did much to lift up the standard of morality and 
religion. The communities in which he grew up were Sab- 
bath-observing, condemned worldly amusements, often thought 
to be entirely compatible with the profession of Christianity, 
and in general showed a sympathy with a mildly Puritan mode 
of life. 

With this sketch of the environment into which our sub- 
ject was bom and in the midst of which he developed his 
God-given powers, we pass to the exhibition of his early life. 



Summary of his Inherited Powers, and of the Forces of his En- 
vntONMENT. — Charleston the Place of his Birth. — The History 
OF Mr. Edward Palmer's Family, 1821-1824, Sketched. — Rev. 
Edward Palmer's Family at Dorchester. — At Walterboro. — 
"Ben Palmer" as a Schoolboy at Walterboro. — ^The Palmer 
Family at McPhersonville. 

THE 25th day of January, 1818, in the home of his parents, 
Edward and Sarah Bunce Palmer, on Beaufain Street, 
Charleston, S. C, Benjamin Morgan Palmer was born. The 
foregoing chapters have made it clear that he was sprung of 
excellent stock, and born into the midst of a civilization at 
once unique, commanding and noble. They have made it clear 
that it is only fair to look to him to manifest the sentiment of 
devotion to duty for which the early and honest Puritan was so 
remarkable; to disclose a strong native bent toward culture; 
to discover vigor of practical as well as intellectual character; 
to display sweetness of disposition along with virile motives of 
conduct, and strength of determination; to reveal in himself 
capacity for breadth of view, generosity in estimating sympa- 
thetically, so far as truth allows, diverse systems of philoso- 
phy and faith, while at the same time holding, on his own part, 
a very definite system of philosophy and faith ; and to develop 
somewhat of John Calvin's power to entertain Christian 
friendship with those between whom and himself there may lie 
some great differences as to things not absolutely essential. 
These chapters have also made it clear that we should natu- 
rally expect civil and social sentiments colored by the ideals in 
vogue, not in Ohio, or in New England, or in some European 
country ; but in the State of his nativity and of his moulding. 
Born and brought up in some other country, he had been 
somewhat otherwise. 

As a matter of fact, he appears to have derived from his 
mother, and brought into the world at his birth, a penetrating, 
intense, and powerful intellect and capacities for the formation 

Boyhood and Early Youth. 37 

of a character equal to his intellect in its dignity, intensity, 
persistence and power. From his father he seems to have re- 
ceived a sense of personal digfnity, the tendency to constant 
courtesy, the spirit of broad charity, and sound common sense. 
From the Morgans came his aggressiveness and his strong 
but tempered self reliance. 

Thus he begins life, with a certain seriousness and earnest- 
ness contributed by the Palmer blood, which "was warranted 
to go a long way and keep clean and sweet to the end," with 
the self-reliant aggressiveness of the Morgans, and the in- 
tensity, buoyancy and brilliancy of his attracted and attractive 
mother, Sarah Bunce, who not only put her impress upon him 
in bearing him, but as we shall see, exerted the chief moulding 
influence upon him during his youth. 

The impress of his mother State upon him has already been 
affirmed, and certain particulars of it pointed out. In his 
•political views, in his bearing in society, in his breadth of 
sympathies, in his regard for the family and the home, he was 
a South Carolinian of the highest type. How large and full 
and clear was the impress of all that was noble in his envi- 
ronment upon him, will appear more fully in the sequel. For 
the present it will suffice to have further said: It was in- 
evitable that a youth so impressible and so thoughtful should 
be affected by his civil and social surroundings. He was under 
a necessity of nature to note and approve, or disapprove, of 
that civilization, to condemn it in whole, or in part, or to take 
it to his heart. He was to be affected by all he met, in some 
way or in another, and he was to respond actively to every 
affection. He was not to vegetate ; he was to live. 

The city in which Benjamin Morgan Palmer was born was a 
beautiful and cultured city. The Charlestonese prided them- 
selves on the fact that their pronunciation of English was 
equaled on this side of the Atlantic only in the city of Bos- 
ton, Mass. It was a place of breadth of sympathies, too. 
Neither in the State nor in this city, which for a long time 
had been the colony of South Carolina, had there ever been 
any considerable prejudice against any man on account of 
his nationality or religion. The population, while coming 
from many European, West Indian, and other colonial sources, 
and containing some unworthy elements, was derived for the 
most part, from the best of the European peoples, — ^the Eng- 
lish, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, Huguenots, Dutch from New York, 

38 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

and Germans from the Palatinate. These had given character 
to the city. It was something to be born in such a city, not- 
withstanding that young Palmer should be carried thence at 
about the age of six. As the home of his parents prior to his 
birth and during his early years it would not be without its 
influence upon himself. 

It has been seen that in 1821, his father, under the con- 
viction that he ought to give himself to the Gospel ministry, 
went to Andover, Mass., in order to furnish himself for that 
form of service. This step devolved upon Mrs. Palmer the 
care of four small children, the youngest and puniest of 
whom was Benjamin Morgan. It was a trying time for 
both parents. Andover was a long way from Charleston in 
those days. Any, or all of his family might sicken and die 
before the father could be informed of their illness. Mr. 
Palmer as a successful teacher, had been supporting his family 
in entire comfort. Now the mother would have to be bread 
winner for the little ones. On taking leave of his children, 
Mr. Palmer is reported to have long held the frail little Ben- 
jamin in his arms, and to have said, "My poor little Benny, I 
suppose I shall never see you again in this world. You will 
hardly live to pass your fifth year." Mrs. Palmer and her sis- 
ter, Mrs. Axson, took a large house in the southern part of 
Charleston, perhaps on Lamball street ; and there kept a small 
boarding school during the first two years of Mr. Palmer's 
sojourn in Andover. During this period Mrs. Palmer seems 
to have kept a few sturdy and reputable young men as board- 
ers also. During 1822 to 1823, the hand of God was sore upon 
the little family thus orphaned of a father's care. Within a 
week two fair children were smitten and died, the bright, 
strong, resourceful young mother, crushed in heart, suffered 
only less than her far-away husband, who, bereft of his chil- 
dren, felt that he could not assuage the grief of the wife and 
mother as if at her side. He resolved that the three living mem- 
bers of his family should at once come to Andover to be with 
him during the remainder of his period of study there. 

Accordingly they repaired to Andover and spent there the 
year 1823 to 1824. There the family kept house; and Mrs. 
Palmer evinced both her energy, her ability, and her sense of 
the responsibilities that would devolve upon her as a minis- 
ter's wife by reading through Locke's "Essay on the Human 
Understanding," and other useful books. She tried to improve 

Boyhood and Early Youth. 39 

the mind of her oldest child, Sophronia also, by having her 
read portions of these books, including Locke's. The child 
was only nine and a half years old ; but the mother secured the 
service without making it an irksome labor to the little girl. 
She taught her child to think that she could thus help her 
mother, who would listen to the reading and at the same time 
perform some domestic labor. 

It is worth while to notice again this young matron, slen- 
der, and graceful in movement, with a rather lofty and beau- 
tifully moulded forehead, penetrating but sweet steel blue eyes, 
a well shaped nose, a flexible mouth of sufficiently generous 
proportions, a strong but not a stubborn lower face, and a high 
purposefulness in all her carriage. She understands and sym- 
pathizes with all her children and secures their obedience with 
tactfulness and ease. The mothering of her children, their 
noblest development, she makes her high and holy business. 

As for young Benjamin, he is disporting himself much as 
other children between five and six. Soon after their reaching 
Andover, and while the family was, for, about a week, in a 
boarding house, he is said indeed, to have distinguished him- 
self by rushing one morning into the kitchen and demanding 
for his breakfast some South Carolina hominy instead of the 
breakfast dishes common in New England at the time. He 
loved hoop, ball, and kite; and in the winter to play in the 
snow with his sister Sophronia, or with her to slide on the ice. 
They had many experiences which it delighted them greatly to 
recall in later times: the run of the orchards of considerate 
neighbors, the roasting of apples on the winter nights. Par- 
ticularly they never forgot the beautiful wild moss roses 
which the mother loved so well, and which they would gather 
for her. 

We are not informed of the state of advancement in learn- 
ing at which this little boy had arrived on leaving New Eng- 
land; but if safe inference may be made from the fact that 
his sister Sophronia was able to read the New Testament at 
the age of four; and from the fact that at the age of four- 
teen he himself was well prepared for college, he had prob- 
ably made considerable advancement in the rudimentary stud- 
ies for young children. The same thing may be argued from 
the intense concern of his mother for her children's progress; 
and from his devotion to her. It is said that he became her 
constant companion; and that he would drop his play at any 

40 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

time to go to hear her read or talk, or a little later, to read 
to her. 

Returning to South Carolina in 1824, the Rev. Edward 
Palmer and his family lived for three years at Dorchester, 
about eighteen miles from Qiarleston, in the district of Col- 
leton. Dorchester, now a decadent village, is the principal 
scene of the romantic tale of the "Partisan," by Simms. In 
the very heart of the district ennobled by so many gallant 
episodes of the struggle for independence of Great Britain, 
it was an ideal place for the development of the historical 
imagination as well as of the more fundamental tastes for 
a knowledge of the past. Nor could his gifted mother fail 
to avail herself of such an occasion. Up to their leaving 
Dorchester she seems to have been almost his only teacher. 
In addition to teaching him the rudimental learning usually 
given boys of his age, she read with him the whole of Shakes- 
peare's plays, MiIton*s "Paradise Lost," and Scott's novels, 
thus helping him to that luxuriance, beauty and precision of 
style for which his own pen was to be remarkable. Moreover, 
she grounded him deeply in the noblest principles of character 
and conduct. She, more than any one else, gave the primal 
shaping to a character which was to develop into unusual 
splendor and to make him one of the greatest figures of his 

Two or three incidents related of his childhood, and per- 
haps to be assigned to the period during which the family 
was living at Dorchester, would seem to indicate that his 
mother had her hands full in the effort to bring him up aright. 
He was undoubtedly a child of strong will and of wilfullness 
as well. Of one of these incidents he carried to the day of his 
death a memorial. His father had allowed his faithful horse 
to graze on the little lawn around the cottage in which he 
was living. He had warned his son Benjamin to keep away 
from the animal, but the imp of mischief was incarnated in 
him ; he delighted in creeping up to the animal and startling 
him with a smart cut, or other means, into a run. Unfortu- 
nately, on one occasion he got too near, the horse landed a kick 
on the face of his tormentor, bruised and cut his lips not a 
little, and slit one side of a nostril to such an extent that he 
bore the marks, slightly disfiguring that side of his face, to 
the day of his death. 

We are told again, that the spirit of mischief taking pos- 

Boyhood and Early Youth. 41 

session of him one morning during family prayers, he slipped 
out of the house and amused himself by chasing a cat around 
the yard. In requital he received a sound flogging from his 
exacting father. The most significant story of the period, 
however, is the following: A paternal measure, an account of 
which has not been preserved, had provoked the boy's resent- 
ment Now his father was a man of great neatness and order 
about his writing as about all his work. Valuable belongings 
on his writing table were a neat pen-knife for sharpening his 
quill pens, scissors, paper cutter, etc. It seems that Mr. 
Palmer valued very particularly these articles. To "pay" his 
father for the paternal measure just referred to, Benjamin 
took them and deposited them in a brook hard by. Pretty soon 
Mr. Palmer missed them, made a search, questioned his house- 
hold, and amongst the rest Benjamin, who evaded the question 
for a time and then boldly "lied" about the matter, declaring 
that he was in no wise chargeable with their misplacement. 
He joined with apparent sedulousness in the hunt for them. 
He kept up the pretense for several days. He had chosen 
to avenge himself on his father and it was hard for him to give 
over. But the burden was too heavy for so ingenuous a nature. 
It was his "first lie," or series of lies, for in his old days he 
said, "I lied straight through for a week." He was all the 
while most miserable. Child though he was, appetite and sleep 
were going from him. At the end of the week he rushed one 
morning into the house, crying, "Where is father?" Receiv- 
ing the reply, "He is in his study, you must not interrupt him," 
he exclaimed, "I cannot help it, I must interrupt him;" and 
rushing in, he confessed the whole matter. When nearing 
eighty he could say that since that day he did not know that 
he had ever been guilty of a lie. The loathsomeness of lying 
was to his nature so appalling that the one experience was too 

From Dorchester, with its inspiring traditions and its "grand 
old trees," Mr. Palmer removed with his family to Walter- 
boro in the year 1827. This place had been in the beginning, 
a summering resort. The planters from about Old Bethel 
Qiurch on the Edisto, and from the Salkehatchie, had found 
that there, under the long-leafed pine, they could pass the sum- 
mer in health. Their houses were plain but comfortable one- 
story cottages; and their houses had given character to the 
buildings that were subsequently erected for more permanent 

42 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

occupancy. We may therefore imagine the Palmers moving 
into a "small one-story cottage," quite low to the ground, for 
their home in Walterboro. While the dwellings were simple, 
the place was one of refinement and culture. It was the region 
of die Glovers, the Hendersons, the Perrys, the Oswalds, the 
Dents, the Linings, the Erasers, the Parkers, the Fishburnes, 
the Riverses, the Witsells, and others of good name in South 
Carolina. It seems to have had its fair proportion of pro- 
fessional gentlemen, for in addition to the ministers of religion 
and the doctors of physic, tradition tells of the lawyers : J. D. 
Edwards, D. S. Henderson, J. B. Perry, Solicitor of the Cir- 
cuit and an eminent legal light, M. E. Carr, O. P. Williams 
and Carloss Tracy. 

In this place the Rev. Edward Palmer and his family con- 
tinued to live, on this occasion, till about 1832. Mr. Palmer 
soon became universally and intensely beloved. He was to re- 
turn to this pastorate again in 1844, there to pass the remain- 
der of his ministerial life, in the greatest honor and affection. 
The following simple incident, the date of which has not been 
precisely fixed, indicates somewhat of the regard in which he 
was held : Some one hazarded a criticism of Mr. Palmer one 
day, in the presence of an aged parishioner, Mrs. Witsell. 
Whereupon she broke into ejaculatory thanksgiving to God, 
explaining that but for the criticism Mr. Palmer would soon 
have died, since God in his holy Word, had pronounced woe 
unto him of whom no man spake evil. Mrs. Palmer, in some 
respects more admired, was only less beloved because by reason 
of her woman's sphere she was less widely known. It can 
be said that she made the young people of the town, and es- 
pecially the girls and young women of her husband's flock, 
her own. Naturally under such circumstances, in this hospita- 
ble region, every door was open to their children, and amongst 
the rest to Benjamin Morgan. The son of the beloved and 
honored Christian minister was welcome to the most intimate 
intercourse with the sons of gentlemen of the highest station, 
and received at the hands of these gentlemen themselves every 
proper consideration. As during these years at Walterboro, 
young Palmer was passing from the age of boyhood to youth, 
was waking to a manlier life, we must think of him as ab- 
sorbing much from the .society around him. There are not 
wanting indications that it was in these years that he made the 
principles of South Carolina civilization tentatively his own. 

Boyhood and Early Youth. 43 

The country had been wrought up to the nullification meas- 
ures. The South Carolina principles were at stake. They and 
the oppressive and "unrighteous tariff" were the staples of 
conversation. We, indeed, are not told of his study of these 
principles, but by 1833 he is found defending them bravely. 
He who knows our subject feels safe in saying that he had 
given the matter study before taking his stand in regard to it. 

These Walterboro years were important not only because 
of the stimulus to the formation of his views on civil mat- 
ters, but because he then came, for the first time, under 
other teachers than his parents. The Hon. Daniel J. Pope, of 
Columbia, S. C, is our authority for the following ac- 
count of the most influential teacher under whose influence 
"Ben Palmer came in this period :" The Rev. J. B. Van Dyck 
was not a great scholar. He was a rather poor mathematician ; 
a good Latin scholar, but not a first-class Greek scholar. He 
knew enough to prepare men well for college. While not a 
great scholar he was a great teacher, he could tell what he 
knew so as to make a boy understand it. He could, and did, 
excite the ambition of his boys. Some men have great learn- 
ing and no power to impart it. Others have no great learning 
but power to impart all they have, and to stimulate their more 
gifted pupils to attainments beyond the reach of their own 
achievements. Mr. Van Dyck belonged to the latter class. 
Without any extraordinary learning, he had wonderful power 
of impartation. In addition to the ordinary training of the 
schoolroom, Mr. Van Dyck established a debating society 
into which he introduced the boys. He sometimes presided. 
"While in other schools the boys were playing, in his school 
they were learning to debate and to speak." 

With Mr. Pope, Mr. James Glover, of Walterboro, also, 
about eighty years of age, agrees as to most of the foregoing 
account of Mr. Van Dyck. He adds that Mr. Van Dyck was 
remarkable as a disciplinarian, being rigid to the point of se- 

These old gentlemen unite in aiHrming that "Ben Palmer" 
was "a good boy," "played little," and "studied hard," "a model 
boy." Mr. Pope, who entered the school about the time young 
Palmer left, says, that "Palmer stood at the very head of this 
school, had learned all to be taught there by the time he was 
fourteen, and went at that age "to Amherst thoroughly pre- 
pared." Tradition also says that Ben Palmer was the prince 

44 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of debaters and speakers in that little debating society organ- 
ized by Mr. Van Dyck. Amongst his schoolmates were Paul 
A. M. Williams, Laurence Fishburne, Cross-keys Oswald, Ben- 
jamin Whaley, and Dr. John O. Gilmer. 

The venerable Mr. E. E. Bellinger, Episcopal minister in 
Walterboro, tells (in 1904) a story of young Palmer's school- 
days which if it be authentic, betrays on the part of our sub- 
ject wonderful self-possession. According to Mr. Bellinger, 
Ben Palmer had gotten into a fight with a larger boy of savage 
temper, was down, and the toy with a knife drawn was threat- 
ening to take his life. Lying on the ground Palmer looked his 
antagonist in the face and saw his savagery rampant — ^the 
fellow was afterwards driven out of his State on account of 
murder, — and said to him, "Blank, I have but one dollar in 
the world but if you will spare my life I will give it to you." 
The savage said, "That is not enough, Ben. You must do 
more. You have no trouble in reading Greek and Latin ; I do, 
I can hardly read at all. You must read my language lessons 
from now till the end of the term." The agreement was made, 
and kept. 

In the autumn of 1831 the Rev. Edward Palmer had been 
induced to accept a call from a Presbyterian church at Stony 
Creek, in Beaufort District As he did not move his family 
until about a year had passed, his son had enjoyed the advan- 
tages of the Walterboro Academy during that year without 
separation from his father's family. 

In the summer of 1832, in the fifteenth year of his age, 
he starts to a Northern college. His experiences there, and 
in the new home to which his father had removed prior to 
young Palmer's return "in disgrace," and his subsequent ex- 
periences in a Southern university are to be sketched in the 
ensuing chapter. 




Goes to Amherst College, in Massachusetts, 1832. — His Career 
These Till the Spring of 1834. — His Return to South Caro- 
lina. — ^The Home of his Father's Family at this Time. — His 
Reception by his Parents. — Engaged in Teaching, 1834- 1836. — 
Conversion in 1836, and Union with the Church in Mc- 
Phersonville. — ^Enters University of Georgia, January, 1837. — 
Career in that University till August, 1838. — ^A Question to 
BE Solved. 

AT the age of fourteen "Ben Palmer" struck the ordinary 
observer as undersized; and as probably a youth of no 
special parts. The man of close observation noted many things 
in the youngster, however, which attracted attention. Under- 
sized he certainly was; but his movements were graceful as 
those of a young leopard. From the toes of his pretty little 
feet to the top of his head he was lithe, supple, elastic, and 
apparently perfectly healthful. His hands seemed a little less 
delicately formed than his feet, but were small for a person 
of his size. If he wanted a trifle in breadth across the shoul- 
ders, he enjoyed a compensation for that defect in the depth 
of his chest. In his face there were warring elements. He 
was very dark, and had something about his lips (due in part 
it may be to the kick received from his father's horse), which 
suggested a highly sensitive and sensuous nature. But there 
was indomitable strength of will written on his lower jaw, 
and around that same homely mouth. He had a well-shaped 
but not large head. His nose was a good one on one side, 
disfigured slightly by the scar left by the hoof of the horse 
on the other. In the eyes were features that redeemed and 
transfigured the face. They always sparkled and changed with 
the changing thoughts and feelings by which he was possessed ; 
and when he spoke his voice revealed another great attraction. 
It was a wonderful instrument : it had in it music and laughter, 
mourning and tears, the thunders of war, and the songs of 
peace. If he spoke of the waves you could hear their swish 
in that voice, gentle or swelling as he saw the waves them- 

46 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

selves. He thus plainly appeared to be a youth of extraordi- 
nary gifts. He himself, it was further noted, had no conscious- 
ness of this as yet. He was remarkably free from any self- 
consciousness. He was, while not forward, easily accessible 
to his fellows, a remarkably well-bred young fellow. 

He is pretty young to start out, all alone, for Amherst, in 
far-off Massachusetts. But he is of courageous stock; and 
we may think of his voyage as costing less of anxiety to his 
parents than most mothers and fathers would feel; and as 
looking to him as involving no risk in comparison with the 
ends to be gained by going. One thing tried him — the parting 
from home and mother. He had been a mother's boy. His 
disposition seems to have been much like hers. Between them 
there was a large and rich sympathy. They had had years 
of communing together of whatsoever things are true, what- 
soever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, what- 
soever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, what- 
soever things are of good report. 

The Rev. Edward Palmer did not go with his son to Qiarles- 
ton, secure passage with some reliable skipper for him, and see 
the lad safely aboard for the sail to New York. He did not 
even ask his elder brother, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Morgan 
Palmer, of the "Circular Church" in the city of Charleston, to 
see his nephew and namesake safely aboard a suitable vessel. 
The lad was regarded as able to take care of himself. He ac- 
cordingly went alone from his home in Walterboro to Charles- 
ton, provided for his own passage, and boarded his vessel. 
It would be interesting to know what he saw and heard on 
the voyage; what questions he put to the skipper and to his 
fellow-passengers ; to know how he felt as the city of Charles- 
ton, the place of his birth, the home of his fathers, the capital 
of his State, faded from his view; and to know what he felt 
as he watched the rolling billows of the apparently limitless 
expanse of sea about him, borrowing and adding to their own 
the varying hues of the vast heavens above him. We may be 
certain that unusual thoughts and imaginations possessed him ; 
and that had he expressed them, he would have done it in a 
style at once stately and beautiful, with a kind of high Alpine 
imagery. For such was his wont. He was of the class of be- 
ings who habitually, and of nature, express themselves in lofty 
and noble terms of sense, who see even commonplace things 
in their more dignified aspects. 

Days of His College Training. 47 

After an uneventful voyage he reached New York, and 
thence made his way to the picturesque village of Amherst. 
The village of Amherst was to derive a long growing distinc- 
tion as the seat of Amherst College. Here, on a hill, off from 
the forks of the Connecticut, the college had been planted in 
1 82 1. It was therefore, a very young college which this young 
South Carolinian had gone so far to enter. But while young, 
it had an efficient faculty. It had been founded mainly for the 
purpose of educating poor and pious young men for the Gospel 
ministry. There was a large diarity fund which paid the tui- 
tion fees of a considerable number of students. Perhaps the 
chief considerations with his parents in making this choice 
of a college for their son, were the reputation of the place 
for piety (which stood then in striking contrast, in this respect, 
to the College of South Carolina), the hope that their son might 
there be converted and led to dedicate himself to the ministry, 
and the prospect of relatively small cost in educating him. 
Amherst was almost matchless at the time for offering literary 
advantages at little cost. Tuition and room rent could be ob- 
tained for $5.25 per term. Table board in a dub was to be 
had at $1.25 per week. The very economical student could get 
through a year's study on a total expenditure, including that 
for clothes, of $150.00. There is no reason to suppose that 
young Palmer was expected to maintain himself on so small a 
sum ; but he was expected to consult economy. His father had 
but a small salary on which to maintain and educate his family. 

''A small group of Southern students nestled like birds in a nest, 
in that far-off New England clime. Five of the number hailed from 
Virginia, four from Georgia, and one poor lone speckled bird from 
South Carolina. The heart lingers a moment over this little coterie, 
trying to keep itself warm in that cold region by building close to- 
gether in the bonds of a special friendship. Most of the group rose to 
eminence in different walks, but chiefly in the service of the church. 
The names, if given here to the reader, would be found familiar to 
history, either as Ambassadors at foreign courts, as Chancellors of 
Universities, or as Ecclesiastics or Divines. It was an uncanny time 
for Southern men to trim their sails for Northern seas. The Nullifi- 
cation storm had just burst over the country, and was not yet ap- 
peased: The abolition fanaticism was rising to the height of its 
frenzy. The elements of conflict were gathering in the theological 
world, which a little later resulted in the schism rending the Presby- 
terian Church asunder. The sky was full of portents, and the air 

48 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

screamed with war cries on every side. The unfortunate South Caro- 
linian, whom fate reserves to record in these pages his own disaster, 
was too young and unformed in character to steer his bark over such 
tempestuous billows, and was soon wrecked upon a treacherous reef." ^ 

Amongst his fellow students from the South were John 
Holmes Bocock and Stuart Robinson. Amongst those from the 
North was Henry Ward Beecher. Friendships more or less 
strong were formed between "Ben Palmer" and each of these 
men. Beecher was five years older than Palmer, and a member 
of a more advanced class. But the youth and the young man 
were naturally attracted to one another. They were alike in 
possessing active minds, and facile and powerful speech. They 
were unlike in that Beecher was the possessor of a vastly more 
impressive figure, was capable of more sensuous and lurid 
rhetoric, and could with little reason, or against reason, sweep 
the average audience with him, while Palmer had always to 
have reason on his side in order to effective speaking. Palmer, 
had more force with all who thought. He almost never lost 
command of himself, nor attempted to move without reason at 
the helm. His speech was more classic, more Demosthenian, 
more moving to the thoughtful, because in him reason was 
wedded to feeling and to passion. These two were drawn to- 
gether also by a common love for the game of chess, a game in 
which it is said that Mr. Palmer excelled Mr. Beecher. 

But if young Palmer formed friendships with men of the 
Northeast, he found frequent occasions of jars to that friend- 
ship. He heard much of the hot-headedness of his section 
and of his own State in particular, on account of the Nullifica- 
tion measure. He heard the whole South grossly abused on 
account of her peculiar institution of slavery. He heard the 
masters and mistresses of slaves vilified as inhuman semi-bar- 
barians. He was not the youth to sit under these slanders in 
an apathetic, much less in an approving, way. He knew well 
many large slave holders. He had been a frequent inmate of 
their homes. He knew the relative happiness and contentment 
of the slaves. His father had, from the start, been as much a 
pastor of the slaves as of their masters. He had received more 
slaves into his churches than whites. More than two hundred 
and fifty colored members were received into one of his little 
country churches between 1832 and i860. Nor was the Rev. 

* From Dr. Palmer's unpublished manuscript on Dr. Stuart Robinson. 

Days of His College Training. 49 

Edward Palmer's course exceptional in regard to the slaves. 
White Christians generally were solicitous, in his region, for 
the spiritual welfare of their black people. Young Palmer soon 
became marked as a spokesman for the Southern cause, and 
was worried not a little by the assaults, in the classroom and 
on the campus, made upon the land of his birth and rearing. 
His championship probably provoked repeated assaults. His 
irritation, thus produced, was not without determining influ- 
ence in a crisis which was to come in the history of his rela- 
tions with the faculty. 

Meanwhile he had been a good student, and report says 
that he stood first in his class, notwithstanding his extreme 
youth. He had completed his first year and gotten about mid- 
way of the second, when the crisis in his history as a student 
in Amherst came. 

The Rev. Thomas A. Hoyt, D.D., has left the following ac- 
count of the occasion of the passage : 

"Palmer was attached to a literary society, the members of which 
were bound by a solemn pledge not to disclose what occurred at its 
meetings. One of the exercises consisted of the reading by the sec- 
retary of anonymous papers which had been deposited in a box at the 
door. A paper was read at one of the meetings which contained 
caustic but humorous criticisms of the professors. A divinity student 
betrayed his fellow-members by informing the Faculty. At the next 
meeting of the society, an order was read forbidding the exercise, 
whereupon Palmer, then about sixteen years of age, moved that the 
paper conveying the order be tabled indefinitely, alleging that the 
Faculty could not know of the exercises except through the treachery 
of one of the students, and that it was unworthy of the dignity of the 
professors to accept perjured testimony as evidence. The president 
was afraid to put the motion to vote, but two members held him in 
the chair while the question was put and carried. This transaction was 
promptly communicated by the same informer to the Faculty. 

"That honorable body thereupon attempted discipline for both of- 
fenses. In order to discover the author of the obnoxious paper, their 
plan was to force all who could do so, to swear that they were guilt- 
less; and thus force them by indirection to place the offense at the 
door of the culprit. A number of high spirited fellows were indig- 
nant that they should be thus forced into the role of informers, against 
their pledge, too, as members of a secret society. The sixteen-year-old 
Palmer was at their head and their mouthpiece. When summoned into 
the presence of the Faculty and requested to make his disavowal, he 
informed that body that he was in honor bound to take no part in 


50 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

disclosing what went on in a society the members of which were each 
pledged to secrecy. The Faculty insisted that he must tell, declaring 
that they were as competent to judge of that which was compatible 
with honor as he was. He refused in absolute terms to comply with 
their demand. They threatened to expel him should he persist. 
'Well, sirs/ said he, T will take expulsion at your hands rather than 
traijiple upon my sense of honor.' The boy here shows *the father 
of the man,' as Dr. Stuart Robinson once remarked, when speaking 
of the incident. He displayed 'the high qualities of honor and 
courage which marked his life.' It was some little time before he 
could leave the town. The Faculty repenting of their severity in 
dealing with him on account of his youth, and perhaps, on account of 
the sentiments he had expressed, came to him and would have taken 
him back; but owing to the irritation he had suffered at the hands of 
the critics of his State and section and to his dislike of the spirit of 
the college as illustrated in the occasion of his expulsion, he was 
determined to leave the institution and to return to his own people. 
In the whole episode he had behaved like a true son of South Carolina. 
When one morning, on the top of a stage, he left Amherst, he had 
good proof that his New England fellow students were generous 
enough to feel and express their admiration for his course. It is said 
that 'the entire body of undergraduates assembled and gave him a great 
ovation, sending him off with ringing cheers.' " 

He proceeded to New York, and there engaged passage for 
Charleston, S. C While waiting for the sailing of his vessel 
an incident happened which gave him excruciating misery for 
about six hours and exerted a life-long influence upon him, 
inclining him to sympathize with all the stranded sons and 
daughters of men. Killing time by strolling the streets, he 
came upon a second-hand book store, entered and looked 
over the shelves. He discovered a work of value and proposed 
to buy it. This book store was kept by rascals. Young Palmer 
had but one bill of currency, a fifty-dollar note. He purchased 
the book and gave the note in payment, asking for the change. 
The recipient, leaving his partner in charge, said, "I will go 
out and get the change." Minutes passed, an hour dragged 
by; the youth approached the other partner and remarked on 
the length of time he had to wait for his money ; he received 
the cruel reply that he would never see his money again, that 
the fellow would not come back. This was to the country- 
bred youth a staggering blow. He had no other money. He 
had not yet paid his passage. He did not know what to do. 
He was afraid to go out in search of a policeman and lodge 

Days of His College Training. 51 

complaint, lest he himself should be charged with being an 
impostor. In grim desperation he resolved to stay in that store 
as long as it should be possible that he might confront the 
scoundrel upon his return. After six weary hours had passed 
the man cautiously ventured back to the neighborhood. Cir- 
cumstances favored Mr. Palmer. While the knave was trying 
to discover whether the coast was clear of the purchaser, that 
severely tried young man caught sight of him, dashed upon 
him, when for very shame the shabby fellow gave up the money. 

To his latest day he could never recall this experience with- 
out pain. He was ever remarkably ready to respond to all 
appeals for help made by young men. He often suffered at 
the hands of the unworthy importunate. He knew it, but 
would say, "Twelve impostors may hoodwink me, but in the 
thirteenth man I may aid a person in real need. I will give the 
money to the thirteen that I may certainly give to him who 
really needs. I was once in awful straits and if my money had 
not been returned I had determined to go to some minister of 
my own church and tell my story and ask him for help. I am 
behaving now simply as I would have had others behave to- 
ward me." 

Recovering his money and boarding his ship he reached 
Charleston, S. C, without other important incident. Thence 
he made his way to the Pocotaligo Creek and up it to the neigh- 
borhood in which his father was now living. 

As already narrated Rev. Edward Palmer had in 1831 
changed his field of labor from Walterboro to Stony Creek, 
twenty-five or thirty miles distant. He had not removed from 
Walterboro, however, till 1832, and perhaps not till after his 
son had left for Amherst. In the spring of 1834 when "Ben 
Palmar" was trying to reach his parents, they were living at a 
country plantation called Laurium, not far from the Stony 
Creek Church. It will be recalled that the planters whose fam- 
ilies worshipped at this church passed their summers, at Mc- 
Phersonville, about seven miles off, on the sand hills and under 
the long-leafed pines ; and that they had a "parsonage" there 
for their preacher's summer house. They had had a manse 
near Stony Creek Church for his use in the winter when the 
most of the planters had their families on the plantations ; but 
the parsonage had been burned and because of the want of a 
manse they had rented for their pastor's use during the winter 
of 1833-1834, the plantation house of Laurium. This was a 

52 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

rather imposing house for a minister. The original Laurium 
house had been of the usual plan, a two-story house, with hall 
and stairway midway between the two ends, a plain square 
room on either side of the hall in each story, and broad piazzas 
on north and south. The preceding owner had added a very 
long room on each end, the rooms being as long as the breadth 
of the original house and of the two piazzas, and fashioned in 
front in octagonal form. They were intended, one as a ball- 
room and the other as a supper room. The front piazza looked 
to the north, the back one to the south. It was warm and 
sunny, with orange trees on either side of the steps. 

Ben Palmer had been longing for this home for weeks. Ev- 
ery person he most loved was there. The stem father he ad- 
mired was there ; his two bright and devoted sisters were there ; 
and his younger brother ; most of all, his mother, the brilliant, 
buoyant, pure and noble, his companion, inspiration and mentor 
was there. He knew that reports from Amherst had outrun 
him. He did not know how his family would receive him. 
Laurium did not have a landing on the Pocotaligo, but the boats 
touched at the adjoining plantation owned by a Mr. Wm. G. 
Martin, who was an elder or deacon in Stony Creek Church. 
Ben Palmer left the boat at Mr. Martin's landing, and went to 
his house as the hour of the little schooner's arrival was late 
at night. Anticipating some trouble at home, he laid his case 
before Mr. Martin, who went over and acquainted Mr. and 
Mo-s. Palmer with the fact of their son's arrival at his place. 
He returned with the message that Benjamin was to come on 

His welcome under the paternal roof as extended by his 
father was not warm. Tradition says that Mr. Palmer, having 
heard the side of the Faculty directly from them, had made up 
his mind that his son's course could not be justified ; that he 
was greatly mortified at his dismissal from college; felt that 
his son had sacrificed foolishly capital advantages; and that, 
as he was himself without private fortune and living on a 
modest salary, the sacrifice was perhaps an irreparable one. 
He was fearfully disappointed with the outcome of sending his 
son, on whom he had set high hopes, to the far-off Northern 
college. Traditions vary as to the extent of severity which he 
now displayed. Some say that he forbade his son the house, 
telling him that he would henceforth have to shift for himself. 
Others says that he simply expressed plainly his own view of 

Days of His College Training. 53 

his son's course, suppressed the son's attempted explanation 
and justification of the course and refused to extend to him the 
hand of welcome. Whatever the course of the father, it was 
too severe for such a high-spirited youth, conscious of no grave 
fault in himself in connection with his expulsion from college. 
The challenge in his father's conduct and language he was 
about to accept by leaving home, to begin the future by him- 
self. But he had not reckoned with all his hosts. His mother, 
of spirit like her boy, and understanding her son to the core, 
stands near with beating heart, but a masterful grasp of the 
whole household, and so we may look upon mother and son 
seated a few minutes later, perhaps in that sunny south porch, 
with the orange trees on either side of the pathway leading 
toward the river, talking the whole matter over, and uncon- 
sciously growing a deeper sympathy between themselves than 
ever. Her heart and mind dominate the hour. She under- 
stands and sympathizes with the son. She hears the whole 
story and sees in it as much to admire as to condemn, and per- 
haps more. She at the same time appreciates fully the father's 
feelings, and shows the son how natural and inevitable it is 
that his father should feel so about the matter. There was no 
great cordiality speedily established between the father and the 
son. Indeed, it was some years before the estrangement, so 
engendered, passed entirely away. It did pass entirely away 
and the father and son became rarely devoted the one to the 
other. Meanwhile the mother and the wife had ruled both like 
the queen she was. For her services to him at this time, her 
son was to bless her inemory to the end of his long and most 
honored life. He would reverently say, "Under God she was 
at this time my savior," and the thought of her caused many 
a stirring and eloquent period to roll from his heart and brain, 
and the performance of many a heroic deed. 

The next two or three years young Palmer spent in the work 
of teaching and private study. He seems toTiave gone to teach- 
ing very soon after his return, in the early spring of 1834, in 
the family of Mr. Wm. G. Martin, the good man to whom he 
had gone on leaving the schooner that brought him up the 
Pocotaligo homeward bound. He next taught during the sum- 
mer of 1834 the village schoool in McPhersonville in which 
his father's family and those of his parishioner planters passed 
their summers. The winter of 1835-1836 he seems to have 
spent teaching in the family of Mr. Hibbens, at Mt. Pleasant, 

54 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

across the Cooper river from Charleston. He may have taught 
again in McPhersonville in the summer and autumn of 1836. 
Tradition says that he was an effective teacher and a deter- 
mined disciplinarian, that he easily and effectually quelled a 
somewhat mutinous band of larger boys in the village school 
that resented his strictness; but reports say also that he was 
worsted on one occasion by his little sister Sally. It seems that 
she was a great pet of his; that it was his delight also to lie 
down and have her rub his head that he might the more easily 
fall into an after-dinner nap. At the school one day she in- 
curred his official displeasure. He ordered her to take her 
stand on a high bench in front of the teacher's desk, a kind 
of punishment he was wont to apply to misdoers. The humili- 
ation was too much for the little miss. Flaring with indigna- 
tion, she raised her fist aloft and exclaimed, "Yes, sir; you 
will not have me to rub your head any more when you wish 
to take a nap ;" and bolting for the door, she ran home. What 
the final upshot of this struggle between authority and wit- 
fulness was, tradition has not reported. 

The teaching of the young is a valuable training for men 
who are to deal with their fellows either as lawyers or minis- 
ters. The schoolroom is a fine place in which to study human 
nature. Providence was training this young man in an excel- 
lent school, we may well believe therefore, in these several 
schoolrooms in which he was trying to teach children and 
youth. He was at this time, too, taking in more fully the pe- 
culiar culture of the country, and unconsciously storing up a 
great amount of matter which he would afterwards use as il- 
lustrative of God's truth from his royal pulpit. 

He was now at the age to be invited to the house parties 
on the plantations. His social standing and his gifts made him 
welcome everywhere. If the city cousin from Charleston pos- 
sessed superior polish, he was the youth to note it with dis- 
crimination, and to appropriate that which was genuinely ele- 
gant, without despising in the least the simpler virtues of his 
rural neighbors. 

He had on these visits, and when residing as a tutor in the 
families of planters, the best opportunity to acquaint himself 
with all the methods of that life. And those methods were 
still so primitive, says Professor Hutson, "that there were 
many things in the daily life around him to illustrate vividly 
for young Palmer the scenes of Scripture. There was the plan- 

Days of His College Training. 55 

tation mill with its upper and nether mill-stone, the lone grinder 
at the mill, and the song with which he solaced his labors. 
There was the threshing-floor of beaten clay where the rice 
was threshed out by flails swung by sturdy hands. There was 
the winnowing tower where the rough rice was separated from 
the chaif . There was the huge wooden mortar wherein with 
a great wooden pestle the rough rice was beaten clean of its 
husks. There were the yokes of oxen, the sheep-fold, the low- 
ing cattle driven slowly homeward from pasture to cowpen. 
There was, too, all that variety and fulness of life which made 
life on the plantation so much richer than life in the village or 
town." During a considerable portion of this period, after his 
return from Amherst, he was the subject of profound religious 
impressions which at length resulted in his conversion, in the 
summer of 1836. He had been carefully trained in the knowl- 
edge of God's truth. He understood that in taking Qirist as 
his Savior he must take him as Master. Rebellion ran ram- 
pant in his heart. He trembled on the brink of infidelity. He 
has left behind some brief indications as to his experiences 
at the time as well as to certain circumstances precedent to 
his conversion. 

In his little volume on the "Formation of Qiaracter" he gives 
us a leaf of his own history. He says : * 

"When J was seventeen years of age, I was thrown into a large city 
as much given to gaiety as this, without being subject to any control. 
I was irreligious, nay, worse than that, I was hostile to religion, in 
decided hostility to God and the Gospel, in such evil posture that, had 
I fallen into the hands of scoffers I might have become as infidel as 
they. Surrounded by companions as unrestrained as myself, most of 
whom sank into premature graves, through the mercy of God I was 

In one of his published sermons,' he exclaims : 

"I have no idea that there is one in all this assembly who has ever 
been, in the worst crisis of his history, the guilty and blasphemous 
wretch that he was at eighteen years of age who this morning addresses 
to you the Gospel of the Grace of God." 

"The long rankling sense of injustice, as he saw it inflicted 
by Christian people, set him fearfully against religion," says 
Dr. R. R. Mallard, so that when grace found him, it found 
him kicking, like Saul of Tarsus, against the pricks. 

*See pp. 125 and 126. * Sermons, Vol. I., p. 596. 

S6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

In an address in memory of Rev. L S. K. Axson, D.D., pas- 
tor of the Independent Presb3rterian Church of Savannah, 
Ga., Dr. Palmer said : 

"It is known to but few that the tie which bound the speaker to Dr. 
Axson was one of grace as well as of nature. There was a spiritual 
relationship between us in addition to that of kindred and of blood. 
It happened on this wise. In journeying from Dorchester to Liberty 
G>unty, his second pastoral charge, his path lay before my father's 
door. It was my office to light him to his chamber at night; when 
placing the candle upon his table it was natural to pause a few 
seconds before parting. He seized the opportunity to address me on the 
subject of personal religion. There was a persuasiveness in his tone 
that soothed me as he said: 'My cousin, you are growing up fast to 
manhood; is it not a good time to give yourself to the Savior, when 
you are soon to choose the course in life which you shall pursue?' 
Subdued by his gentleness, I replied: 'G>usin Stockton, I am doubt- 
less regarded by all around me as thoughtless and flippant, because I 
turn the edge of every appeal with a jest, but I am free to confess to 
you that for eighteen months I have lived in the bosom of as fierce a 
storm as ever swept over a human soul.' My friends, I am describing 
his career, not my own. I may not, therefore, tell the whole story of 
a heart that trembled on the verge of scoffing and infidelity, con- 
scious of its bitter hatred of God and of divine things. But when this 
gentle Nathanael said to me, 'Close it up, my cousin, close it up, and 
be at peace with God,' before reaching the door of his chamber, I 
took the solemn vow that I would make the salvation of my soul the 
supreme business of my life, even if it should not be attained until the 
last hour of a life as long as that of Methuselah. It was long before 
peace came; for the sea is slow to subside after it has been tossed by 
a tempest Six weary months, full of darkness and disappointment, 
elapsed before the prison door was opened and the captive was free, and 
the temptation was strong to abandon all in despair but for the 
solemnity of the form in which the vow was taken. When the peace 
came, it came to stay, and through five and fifty years it has deepened 
in the soul to which it came as the balm of heaven. Have I not a 
commission to be with you to-night and to speak the praise of him who 
then put his hand upon the burning brand to pluck it from the fire? I 
believe it was a comfort to him to know the agency he had in saving 
a great sinner from eternal death, and it is sweet to me to lay this 
memory as a laurel leaf upon his grave." 

We cannot understand from this reference to himself as a 
great sinner that he was ever addicted to gross sin. It is be- 
lieved that from a mere human point of view his life would 
have appeared clean and high. According to the record of the 

Days of His College Training. 57 

Stony Creek session book he was admitted to membership in 
that church July 10, 1836. The scene of admission was the 
chapel in McPhersonville, in which he was to preach from time 
to time, and for the last time in April, 1899, when he was to 
make feeling allusion to this important day in his life's history. 

In January, 1837, he renewed his academic studies in the 
University of Georgia. This institution had been chartered in 
1785, but not opened till 1801. During the presidencies of 
Moses Waddell, D.D. (1819-1829), and of Alonzo Church, 
D.D. (1829, ff.)> it had taken rank with the better colleges of 
the land. Moreover, and this was no insignificant thing in the 
eyes of the Palmers, the university and the now pretty little 
town of Athens, off the shoals of the north fork of the Oconee, 
amid the foothills of the Blue Ridge, were centers of piety and 
sound morality as well as of culture. These considerations 
were leading not a few South Carolina youths to the Georgia 

We are able to take a view of the Faculty, of the student 
body, and of young Palmer during this period, January, 1837, 
to August, 1838, as seen by his roommate for the last session, 
who is now the Hon. Daniel J. Pope, head law professor in the 
University of South Carolina. According to Mr. Pope, Dr. 
Alonzo Church, like a good many able teachers, could not 
preach, but was a man of great executive abilities and a superb 
mathematician, but at this time carrying the work of the chair 
of Ethics and Metaphysics in addition to his executive labors. 
He had no superior as a manager of young men. He was 
courtesy and dignity personified. His looks were in his favor : 
he was about six feet tall, slender and graceful, a brunette, 
with extraordinarily dark and brilliant eyes, dark hair, a face 
classical in its modeling and proportions. He was delightful in 
conversation. He had a delightful voice and lectured to his 
classes with wonderful ease. He possessed great facility in 
calling* out a discussion of a point on the part of the class and 
delighted in doing so. He was not a man of wit ; but once said 
a witty thing. A student had gotten hold of his hat and had 
written in it the word "fool." The doctor picked his hat up, 
looked at the scrawl with surprise and said: "I do not know 
who has done it, but some one has written his name in my hat." 
He made his home educative of our manners. He and his wife, 
a very handsome woman, were charming socially, and had four 
beautiful and very charming daughters. They conducted the 

58 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

aifairs of the house, and had all the conversational powers of 
their father. The boys were all in love with them. 

All the other professors were able men and very competent 
teachers. The professor of ancient languages, James P. Wad- 
dell, was an excellent classical scholar. William Lehman, in 
the Chair of Modern Languages, and Dr. Henry Hull in that of 
Mathematics, were good teachers. Professor James Jackson 
of the Qiairs of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, was a 
splendid old fellow, much beloved by the students, "a great 
Presbyterian, whose face looked every Sunday as if it could not 
wreathe into a smile at the most beautiful thing in nature or 
art. He loved a fight and always made the boys tell him fully 
about every one that occurred." But one of the most remark- 
able men was Prof. C. F. McKay, Professor of Civil Engineer- 
ing. He was a great mathematician, an admirable English 
scholar, and all round, one of the most remarkable men I ever 

Among Ben Palmer's schoolmates were men who afterwards 
were known as Dr. James Jackson, Justice of the Supreme 
Court; Judge Benjamin P. Pressley, of the Circuit Court of 
South Carolina ; Judge John S. Shorter, of the Superior Court 
of Alabama; John LeConte, M.D., LL.D., of many distin- 
guished positions, finally President of the University of Cal- 
ifornia ; Col. Alexander M. Speer, and Robert Trippe, Justices 
of Supreme Court, and many others distinguished as professors 
in universities, colleges, or professional schools, as ministers, 
physicians, or lawyers. 

"Ben Palmer," continues Mr. Pope, "entered the Junior 
class. I entered the following year. We were from the same 
general region, knew of one another, and Palmer invited me to 
be his roommate. Though two years ahead of me in college, 
he showed for me the greatest consideration and sympathy, 
putting himself on a level with me. We would converse on all 
sorts of subjects. His mind was always clear and his use of 
language very remarkable. Almost as soon as I entered he 
pursuaded me to join the College Temperance Society. He de- 
livered about this time the finest temperance lecture it has ever 
been my privilege to hear, though he was at the time only about 
twenty years old. I was not in his class. I cannot tell you any- 
thing of his recitations, but I know he was an elegant Latin 
scholar, a good Greek scholar, a splendid English scholar, a 
good mathematician and stood first in all studies. But the place 

Days of His College Training. 59 

in which I knew him best was the Phi Kappa Society, a debat- 
ing society which met every Saturday and put in a large part 
of the day. He was himself wont to regard the training he 
derived in this society as of the first importance to his subse- 
quent career. Palmer was never absent, and always took part 
in debate. He was as fluent then as he ever became, as elo- 
quent then as he ever became. I have never seen a youth of his 
age who could surpass him as a debater. I remember one oc- 
casion on which the question was, *Is Napoleon Bonaparte 
entitled to be called great?' He took the affirmative, and 
brought tears to our eyes as he pictured that eagle caged on 
St. Helena. 

"Palmer was always honorable and virtuous. He was a high, 
clean fellow. He was always in love. He fell very much in 
love with one of Dr. Church's daughters. But amongst her 
beaux there was a handsome fellow to whom she had become 
engaged to be married. Accordingly, when Palmer proposed 
she declined. Not long after his refusal we were walking to- 
gether in the woods one afternoon, when reverting to the sore 
subject, he said, *Do you think that that man is handsomer 
than I am ?' I was intensely amused ; for Ben Palmer, though 
every inch a gentleman, and a well-groomed one in his appear- 
ance, and evidently of great brilliancy and parts to those who 
knew him, was remarkably homely in the common eye. I said, 
'The truth compels me to say that I do think he is handsomer 
than you, but he has not one tenth of your brains.' 

"Palmer was graduated with the first honors, in August, 
1838, and on that occasion delivered an exquisite oration." * 

He ran this distinguished career in the University of Georgia 
with burdens on his shoulders. He largely supported himself 
during his entire career in the institution by private labors as 
a tutor. He served as tutor first in the family of the distin- 
guished lawyer, Mr. Oliver H. Prince, of Athens. He was liv- 
ing in the Prince home, and in charge of the children of Mr. 
Prince when that gentleman, accompanied by his wife, made 
tiie trip to New York, that he miglit superintend the publishing 
of the "Digest of the Laws of Georgia" which he had compiled. 
And when, on their return voyage, the father and mother per- 

*This account of Mr. Palmer's life at the University of Georgia 
is largely in the words of the Hon. Daniel Joseph Pope, of Co- 
lumbia, S. C, taken down as he talked in July, 1904. 

6o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

ished off the Hatteras coast in the wreck of the steamer Home, 
Mr. Palmer showed the greatest tenderness toward, and exer- 
cised the greatest care over, his orphaned charges until they 
were removed to Macon, Ga., to be with relatives. 

His faithfulness and tenderness to the sorrow-stricken chil- 
dren of the Princes, and his qualifications for tutoring, secured 
an invitation now to become tutor in the family of Mr. and Mrs. 
Thomas Wiley Baxter. Here he taught Thomas W. Baxter, 
Jr., afterwards of Atlanta, Ga., Sally Catherine Baxter, who 
in due time became Mrs. Edgeworth Bird, of Baltimore, and 
John L. Baxter, who developed into a man of scholarly attain- 
ments and note, a physician. He so behaved toward these chil- 
dren as not only to advance them in learning but to gain their 
fraternal and undying affection. He won the love of the par- 
ents as fully as that of the children. This affection he returned, 
taking Mrs. Baxter into his heart as a kind of second mother 
to him, and the children as brothers and sisters. For Mrs. Bax- 
ter he ever entertained a huge admiration. Hers was a char- 
acter as "pure and peaceful as ever blessed a home." Years 
later he said, "Her equable temper, early sweetened by divine 
grace, breathed around her an atmosphere so sincere, that to 
be near her was to be at rest. Her gentle patience broke the 
edge of sorrow, leaving it nothing but its pathos. Her step 
in life was so noiseless that even duty seemed eased of its bur- 
den. Her unselfish sympathy plucked the grief from many an 
aching heart, whilst an unobtrusive charity lighted many a 
scant home with her beneficence. Neither dazzled by the splen- 
dors of fortune, nor daunted by the frowns of adversity, her 
brave heart preserved an equal trust in the God of her salvation. 
A sweet and winning piety was hers. It had no glare about it, 
and was full of meekness and humility ; yet it was so pervading 
it quickened every action and purified every thought, it breathed 
in every tone and gleamed in every look, rendering her whole 
life a sweet gospel, full of the savors of Christ. 

"Precious saint ! Across the track of thirty years comes one 
through this sketch to pour his filial reverence and tears upon 
your grave. The days of youth are long since passed, when he 
was a son in her loving home ; but the memory of her, who was 
to him like the sweet mother that first kissed his infant cheek, 
will ever be as 'ointment poured forth.' " 

Days of His College Training. 6i 

From the little girl he taught in the Baxters' home, now Mrs. 
Edgeworth Bird, of Baltimore, Md., we learn that he used, 
while in college, to have not a little time for social duties, that 
he wrote regularly for the Lyceum, formed by the young 
ladies of Athens, and to which many of the students were in- 
vited; that his papers were full of charming witticisms. She 
heard him read one of these to a brother of hers, also a uni- 
versity student, for his criticisms. It was headed, "Shall I 
marry a missionary?" Overhearing it, she laughed out mer- 
rily at some of its conceits. Whereupon "he declared that he 
felt sure his article would at least amuse the ladies, if such a 
little tot could see anything in it." Mrs. Bird adds, "The girls 
of Athens were known far and wide for their beauty and the 
students fully appreciated it." 

We learn further from Mrs. Bird, that while he was in col- 
lege, though a prime favorite socially and leading his class 
intellectually, he was very faithful to all religious duties. "He 
had a Sunday school in the country, two miles from town, and 
in summer's heat and winter's cold was faithful in attendance, 
generally walking to and from the school." "My father would 
often say," says Mrs. Bird, " *Ben, order one of the horses, 
and drive, or ride to your school this afternoon.' With loving 
thanks, he usually declined, saying the walk would do him 

At this time he seems to have been, for his vears, alreadv an 
able apologist for Christianity j*^ tactful, resourceful and skilful. 

He had found with this noble family a thoroughly congenial 
home, the memory of which he carried with him as a precious 
possession to the last. 

His life at the University had been one of great success — 
splendid development and the joy that comes of it. This time 
he returns to the parental roof with the plaudits of his Fac- 
ulty, his fellow students and the whole university community 
following him. At home there was no cold reception awaiting 
him. But he was conscious of a fight he had to make. To his 
broadened and broadening view, life's responsibitities were 
looming large. He had chosen to serve Christ. How was he 
to serve him? 

• See the article headed The Qjnfessions of a Skeptic, in the South- 
western Presbyterian, May 20, 1869. 



(January i, 1839— April, 1841.) 

Inclined to the Law. — Decides to Study for the Ministry. — En- 
ters Columbia Seminary, January, 1839. — ^The Faculty, Stu- 

Institution. — Influence of James Henley Thorn well on 
HIM. — The G)mmunity and Young Palmer. — A Vacation In- 
cident. — A Son of Consolation. — Miss Augusta McConnell.— 
Seminary Student Palmer Courts Her in Spite of the Powers 
THAT BE. — Leaves the Seminary Walls, the Man of Pre-Em- 
iNENT Promise in his Class. 

YOUNG Palmer was strongly inclined to the profession of 
the law. His clear mind, his vigorous powers as a debater, 
his mastery of the spheres of the pathetic and the sentimental, 
pointed to the most brilliant possibilities as an advocate. These, 
together with the very high high order of eloquence which he 
commanded, suggested a still more splendid career should he, 
after thorough study of the law, give himself to public life, 
in the pursuit of statecraft. Hayne and McDuffie^ Drayton, 
and Petigru, Hamilton and Pinckney, and Calhoun, had 
thrown the sheen of their splendor over this latter sort of 
course, making it all the more attractive to a young man of 
such distinguished parts. Moreover, of his young friends in 
the McPhersonville neighborhood, Wm. F. Hutson, and his 
cousin Wm. M. Hutson, one of whom was subsequently a 
brother-in-law to Mr. Palmer, were studying law at the very 
time that he was at Athens completing his academic studies; 
and of his friends there, amongst the students, many of the 
most brilliant had chosen the legal profession, or were so biased 
in its favor that their choice of it was already practically de- 

But alluring as the legal profession was, it had a rival in his 
heart, a rival more modest and humble, more certainly knit 
to narrow worldly circumstances, but very attractive, as con- 
cerned primarily with that which is highest as well as most 
central in man, the moral and spiritual elements of his nature. 
This was the calling to be a minister of the Christian religion. 

Student for the Ministry. 63 

We see the love for this sort of work moving him to lecturing 
in the temperance cause, and to practical Christian work while 
still a college student. To be an intellectual toiler and to ex- 
press the results of his toil through speech to his fellows was 
with him a sort of necessity. To have his heart most fully 
in his labor it was not less necessary that he should be spend- 
ing himself to lift man up into a richer character and life; 
but he had not yet come to the full consciousness that this 
was so. Hence he had carried these rivals in his heart, from 
the day he had accepted Christ, perhaps, till he walked forth 
from his university with her imprimatur and her honors upon 

Some time after August, 1838, he became convinced that the 
Great Head of the Church had called him to be a preacher of 
the Gospel of the grace of God. 

A tradition long lingered in the seminary which he was 
soon to enter to this effect: "A temperance meeting was held 
one evening in a public hall in Columbia, S. C. When the audi- 
ence assembled there was great disappointment at the absence 
of some distinguished lecturer, who had been advertised for the 
occasion. As the situation was becoming painful a gentleman 
rose to explain and closed by making a call for anyone present 
who would volunteer to make an address. A young man came 
forward to relieve the embarrassment. When he finished his 
remarks everybody was enquiring. Who is this ! It came to the 
ears of some good ladies in the city that the young orator who 
had spoken was a candidate for the ministry, and on his way to 
one of the upper districts to teach school in order to pay his 
way through the Theological Seminary. They told him he 
must go at once to the seminary and they would pay his way."^ 

In January, 1839, with the purpose of preparing himself 
for the ministry, he entered Columbia Seminary, an institution 
which had been put into operation in 1829, at Lexington, Ogle- 
thorpe County, Georgia, with the Rev. Thomas Goulding, as 
Professor of Theology ; but which had been moved to Colum- 
bia, S. C, in January, 1830; and about a year later to the 
eligible site it now occupies in the same beautiful city. 

The buildings of the institution in 1839 were very far in- 
ferior to those which house the institution at present, and 

*This tradition was furnished by the Rev. Professor W. T. Hall, of 
Columbia Seminary, and is here repeated in his words. 

64 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

were, indeed, quite unpretentious, but they were sufficient for 
the students and the Faculty — the real forces determining the 
character of an institution. 

The professors at the time were the Reverends George 
Howe, D.D., and A. W. Leland, D.D. Dr. Howe, of New Eng- 
land birth and Puritan ancestry, was a man of imposing per- 
sonal appearance, an able, learned and accurate teacher whose 
instructions were greatly valued by his pupils — a, man of simple 
and modest but lofty and beautiful character, whose influence 
upon his students was very fine. Dr. Leland was a man of fine 
lineage, and like Dr. Howe, of fine connections, by marriage 
in the State of South Carolina, though like Howe again, he was 
of New England birth. According to Dr. Joseph Bardwell,^ 
"Dr. Leland was magnificently endowed with natural gifts, 
both mental and physical. In manly beauty, dignity and grace, 
he was the admiration, in his youth and early rtianhood, of all 
who knew him ; and with a mind vigorous and strong, and well 
stored with knowledge, and an imagination vivid and powerful, 
coupled with a heart susceptible of the most intense emotion, 
he could impress all who came within the charmed sphere of 
his influence. His majestic form, courtly manners, a voice 
which was harmony itself, and a style cultivated and fervid, 
made an impression upon those who heard him not soon to be 
forgotten. As a reader of Scripture and sacred song in pub- 
lic worship, he surpassed in excellence all whom we have ever 
heard." "He could win the attention and charm the hearers 
as he read the sacred page with that fitting modulation and em- 
phasis which interpreted it as he read, ere he opened his lips 
to set forth in his own often eloquent and persuasive words 
the truth of God." 

These two men were then in their prime, Howe being in his 
thirty-seventh, and Leland in his fifty-first year. While of 
Northern birth, they were in thorough sympathy with Southern 
ideals and wedded to the section of their adoption. Later on 
in their careers, Columbia Seminary was to receive into her 
faculty men who should add mightily to its efficiency and dis- 
tinction. But in the days of smaller things Howe and Leland 
were doing a very valuable work. 

There seem to have been about thirty-two students attending 
the seminary when Mr. Palmer entered; amongst them, J. C. 

* Semi-centennial of Columbia Seminary, pp. 207-208. 

Student for the Ministry. 65 

Brown, H. B. Cunningham, John Jones, T. L. McBryde, Wil- 
liam Banks, James R. Gilland, E. F. Rockwell, Neill McKay, 
James B. Dunwody, W. C. Emerson, George Cooper Gregg, 
and others whose names have long been held in high honor 
throughout our Southern country. 

As to the course of study pursued by Columbia Seminary 
at the time, it is enough to say that Dr. Howe had been largely 
instrumental in planning the curriculimi ; that he had been edu- 
cated at Andover, in theology, and that he made the Columbia 
course the practical equal of the current Andover course ; and 
that he had done his part of the teaching with such distinction 
that the directors of Union Theological Seminary, in New York 
City, had, in 1836, called him to the professorship of Sacred 
Literature in their institution. 

Mr. B. M. Palmer was, according to most reliable tradi- 
tions, a distinguished student in his class, holding the same rel- 
ative place in this body of men that he had held in his univer- 
sity class. He maintained, also, and probably increased his rep- 
utation for eloquence. 

Such productions of his pen as have come down from this 
period seem to indicate very clearly that he not only prepared 
with great labor and care for all public exercises but that he 
was laying broad and deep the foundations of theological 
knowledge. From these may be taken as illustrative a sermon 
on Rom. 5:19: For as by one man's disobedience many were 
made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made 
righteous." The preacher begins by setting forth the con- 
nection of his text with the general argument of the epistle; 
and by marking the stage of the Apostle's reasoning, brings to 
notice the peculiar aspect which the doctrine assumes in the 
words of his text. He then declares that in these words "the 
apostle unfolds briefly but clearly the broad principle upon 
which is based the whole process of reconciliation with God ;" 
and that the "leading doctrine brought before our notice is that 
of Justification which is effected by the imputation of the right- 
eousness of Christ ;" and that in the explication of this text we 
are led to consider : 

1. What the Scriptural doctrine of imputation is. 

2. Upon what general principle it is founded. 

3. What is imputed to the sinner in order to his justification. 

4. The persons to whom this imputation extends. 

In his explication and proof of the answers of these ques- 

66 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

tions he discloses a commanding grasp of the returns that had 
been rendered by the best theological thought of the past. 
There is no reference to learned names; there is something 
better. He has read and assimilated and fused in the crucible 
of his own thought. The discussion is full, elaborate and able. 
His style is much like his later style, his periods sonorous and 
well balanced. In the conclusion he presses four thoughts: 
(i) "How dire and evil sin is,*' as this subject shows; (2) 
"The utter hopelessness of satisfaction by any deeds of the 
law;" (3) "This doctrine of justification by imputed righteous- 
ness affords no shelter for the slothful or stubborn sinner; it 
is a mere statement of his judicial relations to the law of God ;" 
(4) "This subject exhibits the Christian's security by showing 
the basis upon which it rests. All his hopes spring from the 
original covenant of grace which was framed without respect to 
merit or demerit in himself, and which cannot therefore be con- 

The whole discussion covers about twenty-eight pages. The 
pages will average three hundred words to the page. For its 
delivery seventy minutes would be required at the rate of one 
hundred and twenty words to the minute. As he was a deliber- 
ate speaker, he occupied perhaps one hour and twenty minutes 
in its delivery. 

At the close of the sermon occur the words, "Approved, Feb. 
1841." From notes on the cover it is learned that he preached 
it in Charleston, in the Second Presbyterian Church, April 10, 
1841, and in Columbia, First Presbyterian Church, May 9, 
1841. He perhaps used it on the occasion in Charleston as a 
part of trial before his Presbytery, as he was licensed in April 
of 1841, by the Presbytery of Charleston. 

Next to the influence of the Seminary on young Palmer, at 
this time, must be mentioned that of James Henley Thornwell. 
In the year 1839, Thornwell was still Professor of Metaphys- 
ics in the College of South Carolina, but he frequently filled the 
pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia. During 
the year 1840 he was pastor of that church. Somewhat as to 
the influence which Thornwell exerted over him he has himself 
disclosed as follows: 

^'It'was at this period that the writer's acquaintance with his friend 
began; though his own position as a divinity student did not warrant 
the intimacy which was enjoyed a little later, when brought into 


Student for the Ministry. 67 

the relation of a co-presbyter. The impression will never be erased 
of the first discourse to which he listened, in the year 1839. A thin, 
spare form, with a slight stoop in the shoulders, stood in the desk, 
with soft black hair falling obliquely over the forehead, and a small 
eye, with a wonderful gleam when it was lighted by the inspiration of 
his theme. The devotional services offered nothing peculiar, beyond 
a quiet simplicity and reverence. The reading was, perhaps, a trifle 
monotonous, and the prayer was marked rather by correctness and 
method, than by fervor or fulness. But from the opening of the 
discourse, there was a strange fascination, such as had never been 
exercised by any other speaker. The subject was doctrinal, and Dr. 
Thorn well, who was bom into the ministry at the height of a great 
controversy, had on, then, the wiry edge of his youth. The first im- 
pression made was that of being stunned by a peculiar dogmatism in 
the statement of what seemed weighty propositions; this was fol- 
lowed by a conscious resistence of the authority which was felt to be 
a little brow-beating with its positiveness ; and then, as link after 
link was added to the chain of a consistent argument, expressed with 
that agonistic fervor which belongs to the forum, the effect at the close 
was to overwhelm and subdue. 'Who is this preacher?' was asked 
of a neighbor in one of the pauses of the discourse. 'That is Mr. 
Thomwell; don't you know him?'"* 

There can be no question that there v^rere great differences 
between the mental constitutions of these two men. Palmer ex- 
celled in his capacities as a word painter and in dealing with 
the sentimental and pathetic; Thornwell in the power of reas- 
oning, and speculative thought. But there can be as little ques- 
tion that they were enough alike for Thornwell to mould 
Palmer to a considerable degree. To this influence is perhaps, 
to be traced the theological type of his preaching that prevailed 
far along in his life; and to this influence other habits and 
views which we shall have occasion to note in the sequel. It 
is hard to estimate the influence of such a tremendous mental 
and moral force as Thornwell was on a mind and heart so 
sensitive, responsive and aspiring, so keen, strong and inde- 
pendent as young Palmer's. Thornwell unconsciously became, 
unawares it may be to Palmer, his model, yet in no cramping 
way. Palmer's individuality was too strong to follow Thorn- 
well in aught else than what met his judgment's approval. 

In addition to the special training which he received in Co- 
lumbia Seminary, and the highly stimulating influence derived 

• Palmer, Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, p. 154. 


68 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

from Dr. Thomwell, Mr. Palmer profited by the general culture 
of tiie people of the community and city. Naturally the homes 
of the very best people were open to him. He was always 
scrupulously neat in dress, from his nicely booted foot to the 
hat that crowned his head. Indeed, there is a tradition that he 
had had as a youth such a desire for luxurious and showy 
dressing that it had stood in the way for some time of his 
deciding for the ministry. Having decided for that calling 
and thrown to the winds his longing for the more ornate forms 
and features of dress, he gave to the care of his person and 
clothing just about the proper attention to make him acceptable 
to every taste worth considering. His bearing toward all 
classes commended him again to their good graces. He pos- 
sessed a large deference for that which is primal and rudi- 
mental in man and woman, hence he treated all with respect 
and consideration ; while to virtuous talent he had still larger 
homage to render. He was easily and naturally at home with 
all classes of men and women. With women indeed, this 
homely but elegant and graceful little gentleman was always a 
prime favorite. He was a born fighter, but he fought so grace- 
fully and with such respect for his adversary that he naturally 
became to his female friends a sort of knight. His bearing 
toward them, while restrained, was ever considerate. They 
had a right to admire his fine speaking eyes, and his grace of 
body, but were you to listen to them you woi;l(l imagine that 
Mr. Benjamin M. Palmer was not a homely little gentleman, 
but a veritable Apollo in looks, a Mercury in speech, and alto- 
gether a sort of incarnation of the angelic, cherubic and se- 
raphic. Some of them might admit that on first sight, indeed, 
he had not appeared prepossessing ; but his speech and manner 
transformed him. 

It was certainly not to his discredit that he again paid for 
his table board in an excellent family by teaching the younger 
children of the family. Nor do we think the less of him as 
we see him in the vacation of 1840 acting as agent for a tem- 
perance paper and making temperance addresses and talks on 
Christianity as opportunity oflFered. One such glimpse is given 
us by the Reverend and Venerable R. H. Reid, Reidsville, S. C. 
He writes : * 

*In letter bearing date April 13, 1904. 

Student for the Ministry. 69 

"The first time I met Dr. Palmer was in 1840. He was a student in 
Theological Seminary in Columbia, and an agent for the Temperance 
Advocate, published in Columbia. My father, Andrew Reid was an 
elder in the Good Hope Church, in Anderson County, South Carolina. 
Palmer called on him and made known his business. He was invited 
to make his home with us while he canvassed the congregation. He 
remained over Sabbath and conducted a service, the pastor, Rev. 
David Humphries, being absent. He made a deep impression on me. 
I remember his theme distinctly — Blind Bartimaeus, — ^although more 
than fifty years have passed since I heard his lecture." 

That already at this early age, he had begun to develop as 
a son of consolation, is shown by the following letter to Mrs. 
Bazile Lanneau, written upon the occasion of the death of her 
brother, I. S. K. Palmer, M.D., and of her sister Jane Keith 
Palmer : 

"Columbia, S. C, March 30, 1830. 

"Dear Cousin S. ; Although it is delightful for friends 

and relations to commune together, I almost fear that I will give you 
more pain than pleasure by writing at this time: for it would be 
unnatural to write and not to allude to the affliction which has thrown 
so deep a gloom over our family. How poignant must be your sorrow ! 
I can very easily conceive from the recollection of the anguish which I 
saw you endure at the time of dear Jane's death ; and yet in both cases 
you cannot sorrow as 'those who have no hope.* 

"It is indeed melancholy and even painful to behold the family 
circle narrowing its limits and approaching as it were annihilation: 
still this is only one of the illusions of sense. It does not necessarily 
follow that those whom we bury are dead — for Christians never die; 
as the poet says, they only 'languish into life.' Were we utterly ig- 
norant of the truths of revelation and possessed only those ideas re- 
specting time and eternity which nature may teach I would unhesitat- 
ingly pronounce him most happy who soonest escapes from life and its 
sorrows. But having the Bible and believing its declarations respect- 
ing this world and the next, our views of death must be altered with it. 
Yet even now there is but one class of persons whose death we can 
properly bewail, viz: those who are heirs to no hope beyond the grave. 
Truly I would weep over the tomb of such an one, for he is banished 
from God, disinherited and dies the second death. But those who in 
life had been adopted into God's elect family, death is not death to 
such — dying is but going home — it is a mere transferrence of abode. 
No doubt, dear Cousin S., you view dear Keith's death in this light: 
and it affords you sweet comfort. Suppose he had moved to Arkansas, 
and had there settled : you would have sorrowed at the parting but you 
would not have grieved and afflicted your soul, 'refusing to be com- 
forted.' Now, where is the difference to you between his going to 

70 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Arkansas and his going to heaven, except that you know he is far 
safer and happier in the latter place? In the former case you would 
still have regarded him as living, as still a member of the family, as 
still your brother, but in the latter case he assuredly lives in a higher 
sense : moreover, if we are the children of God he is still a member of 
the same family with ourselves — for the Scriptures, speaking of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, add in a parenthesis this phrase — 'of whom the 
whole family in heaven and earth is named/ Hence it follows that 
God's family includes not only those who Wait around the throne, but 
also those who upon earth are still struggling with sin — and, dear 
cousin, the final conclusion to which I would come is this: when our 
brothers and sisters 'die in the Lord,' we should not think of them as 
dead but rather as essentially living and that they still are (not were) 
our brothers and sisters. The only difference is that they are at home, 
whereas we are away from home. Yet as we are upon our journey 
homeward, the day of separation is but short, and we shall all be 
reunited in one unbroken family in an eternal home, where there shall 
be no more wandering — no more parting. 

"I feel, dear Cousin S., that I do an unnecessary thing when I 
dwell upon these common, yet never failing, topics of consolation. 
They have all passed through your mind a hundred times, and have as 
often brought peace to your troubled heart. Still it is delightful thus 
to recall and to feed upon the comfort which the Bible affords, and 
when my thoughts assume this complexion life and all its concerns 
shrink into their proper compass, and I can realize to some extent 
that for *me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.' 

"But I must close these hastily written lines. I expect in a few 
moments to go into the country a short distance to harangue upon 
temperance, and that I have acquitted myself lamely, attribute partly to 
the fact that I write amidst company in the very 'strife of tongues.' . . . 

"In very great haste, yet with very much affection 

"Your cousin, B. M. Palmer." 

Benjamin M. Palmer had been accused, while a university 
student, of always being in love. His removal from the univer- 
sity to the Seminary cloister did not break the force of the 
prcxrlivity ; or if so, it broke it only for a time. Here he found 
the love of his life. It is necessary to pause at this point for a 
moment and to trace briefly the source and history of the life 
that was to flow so richly into his. 

Dr. Robert McConnell, of Walthourville, Ga., had mar- 
ried Sarah Ann Walthour, daughter of Mr. Andrew Wal- 
thour and his wife, Ann Hoffmire Walthour. To Dr. and 
Mrs. McConnell two children were bom, Mary Augusta, and 
Blak^ley. When his little girl was only four years of age and 



Student for the Ministry. 71 

his little boy only two years old, Dr. McConnell died, leaving 
their mother a widow of twenty-one years. The young widow 
remained on her plantation with her children for about four 
years. Then, desiring to bring them up in an atmosphere of 
learning and culture, she carried them to Hartford, Conn. ; 
but after a year or so, the little boy was drowned in the 
Connecticut River. This second bereavement drove Mrs. Mc- 
Connell back to her Southern home. 

In December, 1836, she married as her second husband, 
Prof. George Howe of Columbia Seminary. She continued the 
education of her daughter, placing her in the then famous 
boarding school for young ladies at Barhamville, about five 
miles from Columbia. It was the custom of "Miss Augusta" 
to return home every Friday evening and to remain until Mon- 
day morning. She was, when Mr. Benjamin Palmer ap- 
peared in Columbia, a slender girl of about seventeen summers, 
good to look at; of medium height; of very fair complexion, 
possessed a rare combination of very blue eyes and black hair. 
She was quiet and dignified in manners, but a general favorite, 
a girl whom all could trust in and depend on ; one that could 
be counted on to show capacity .to meet emergencies, too. 

Dr. Palmer used to tell the story that before he met "Miss 
Augusta," a friend from another city who had hoped to woo 
her for himself wrote to him of his hopes; told him that he 
was uneasy lest some one else should win the girl of his choice ; 
and begged him to keep an eye on her friends and to warn him 
if he saw danger ahead. Young Palmer wrote him at once 
that he would never play spy on any girl, and could not do as 

It is supposed that the young seminarian and the fair board- 
ing school miss first met on occasion of one of her weekly 
visits to the parental roof. The very correspondence he had 
had about her tended to interest him in her, and as already 
remarked, it was not hard to interest him in a handsome girl. 
It is understood that in later years she occasionally admitted 
that she was really quite desirous to meet Mr. Palmer; that 
her curiosity had been excited about him by the praises she 
heard heaped upon him as a student, and a speaker of great 
eloquence and power, as a man of the most agreeable manners, 
elegant dress, graceful and courtly carriage. Very soon there 
was a mutually developing attachment between these two young 

y2 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

The course of true love was not to run perfectly smooth 
in their case. From the moment when Dr. Howe saw that there 
were signs of a mutual attachment between these two, he com- 
bated the cause of the young man with his stepdaughter. He 
declined to give his consent to an engagement, and forbade 
their meeting. He had other plans touching his daughter; a 
future which he believed to be far better for her. He hoped to 
see her comfortably settled as the wife of some Christian 
gentleman of means and dignity of circumstance. The pastor's 
wife must usually look forward to much self-denial, to a life- 
long struggle with relative poverty. These young people, how- 
ever, were quite as determined as Dr. Howe. They chose for 
themselves, openly met, and continued the exchange of notes 
all through a two years' engagement. Mr. Palmer would carry 
Miss McConnell to church, picking her up at a neighbor's ; and 
together they would sit under the very nose of the Reverend 
guardian as he preached from the sacred desk. Mr. Palmer 
would carry his fiancee back to the neighbor's house; thence 
she would walk demurely home. 

The day was to come when the young man would squarely 
ask the middle-aged man where the marriage was to take place, 
informing him quietly that barring divine interference, it cer- 
tainly would take place. Many a year later when the plaudits 
were being heaped upon her husband by her stepfather and 
those who had sided with him, the lips of the girl, now long a 
wife and mother, would curl a little, and she would say to a 
neighbor, "Yes, they are proud enough of him now, but once 
they tried to separate us." 

During this period our subject had done at least two things 
well worth doing : He had given himself to his work of prep- 
aration with such diligence and success as to lay broad the 
foundations of theological knowledge, and had «o met all pub- 
lic engagements as to create the highest expectations of his 
usefulness and success as a preacher ; and he had won the love 
of a virtuous woman, whose price was far above rubies, and 
who would do him good and not evil all the days of his life. 

In the next chapter we shall follow him into, and through 
his first pastorate, see him take to his little home the girl whose 
love he had won, and look upon them in their youthful hap- 
piness and in the sunrise of his, and their, career. 



(November, 1841 — January, 1843.) 

Licentiate Palmer Tries his Gifts. — Is Called to the First Pres- 
byterian Church, Savannah, Ga. — Marries Miss McCon- 
nell. — Carries Her in a Buggy from Columbia to Savannah. — 
The Beginning of Their Home-Making. — He had in Savan- 
nah a Fine Church for a Young Man of his Parts. — Was 
Ordained and Installed Pastor, March 6, 1842. — Threw H[M- 
self Zealously into his Work. — Prepared his Sermons in a 
Most Laborious Way. — Was Forced to Change his Methods of 
Preparation and Delivery. — ^Consequent Broader Work as a 
Student. — Did Vigorous Pastoral Workj— Evinced Determi- 
nation IN Deaung with his People. — ^Did Outside Work. — His 
Churches Prospered Under his Pastorate.— He was Called to 
THE Pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia 

MR. BENJAMIN M. PALMER was not one of those can- 
didates who wait for a "suitable place" in which to exer- 
cisce their gifts. Having been offered temporary work in An- 
derson, the county seat of that county in which, a few months 
before, he had sought subscribers for the Temperance Advocate 
and made temperance addresses and delivered Christian lec- 
tures, he repaired to the field as early as the midsummer fol- 
lowing the completion of his seminary course. It gave him a 
place to work and to do the best that was in him under the cir- 
cumstances; and if the Lord had a more important work for 
him to do he would be able to find him in his own way and at 
the right time in the little town of Anderson. 

The Rev. R. H. Reid gives us a glimpse of Mr. Palmer's 
work in Anderson. He says : 

"After his licensure, he supplied the church in Anderson for a short 
while. I was a pupil of Wesley Leverett's famous classical school 
in that place. There was a protracted meeting in the church conducted 
by Mr. Palmer. A goodly number confessed Christ and united with 
the church. I was among the number." 

We have proof in these words that he did an important work 

74 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

in Anderson. Its importance will appear more fully in the 

He was allowed to remain there only three months. As early 
as October i, 1841, overtures were made him to become the pas- 
tor of the First Church of Savannah, Ga. As Savannah was 
in a different Presbytery from that to which he belonged, 
some time was consumed before the "call could be formally 
placed in his hands. 

Meanwhile, assured of a modest living for himself and a 
wife, he returned to Columbia, waited on Dr. Howe, informed 
him that he and Miss Augusta McConnell proposed an early 
marriage, but did not know whether they could plan to have it 
in her mother's home or not. He had come, he said, to Dr. 
Howe to learn. Good Dr. Howe was a wise man as well as a 
good one. He had already seen that opposition was useless, 
and, indeed, he was not certain that the match was so altogether 
poor after all. Palmer was poor but of vast promise. Dr. 
Howe assured him most kindly that the marriage could take 
place nowhere else than in his own home. So the young people 
were married October 7, 1841 ; and by the Rev. Professor 
George Howe. 

A few days after the wedding, they made their journey 
across the country to Savannah in a bugg>% presented to them 
by Dr. Howe as a wedding gift. The trousseaux of the bride 
and groom and the library with which he was to begin his work 
in Savannah were all packed into one small trunk, which was 
strapped on the hinder part of the buggy. He had ten dollars 
in his pocket. Their leaving Columbia had in it both bitter and 
sweet. To the lithe, swarth, determined, talented young man 
it meant less of bitter, though sentiment drew him back to his 
last and best-beloved Alma Mater. To the young girl-bride, it 
meant more of the bitter. She was parting for the first time 
from the mother. As they drove the first morning the tears 
flowed so freely from the young wife's eyes that the husband 
was disturbed. After a time he felt constrained to say that, if 
the trial was so great, they had better return to Columbia, and 
he go on alone to Savannah This startling proposal was just 
the thing needed to tone up the wifely feeling. That plan 
looked more dreadful than leaving the motlier. Pretty soon 
smiles chased the tears away. 

Well attested tradition says that the pair really enjoyed that 
trip in the beautiful October weather, through the ever varying 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. 75 

vistas of October foliage. It was not yet the age of the Pull- 
man palace car and the Saratoga. It was not even the age 
of long railways. There was absolutely nothing of the kind 
between Savannah and Columbia. They did not feel the need 
of it. He was twenty-three, she was three or four years 
younger. They were not poor. God had richly endowed them 
with health and strength, and genius, and energy and character. 
They went to a sufficient, if modest, living; to a position of 
honor and esteem which .God would enable them to fill. So 
on over the country roads toward Savannah they drove, close 
to nature, sympathizing with it, a part of it, close to each other, 
conscious also of being the children of God. They reached the 
city safely. 

For several months during the first part of the period in 
Savannah, they boarded in the family of Mr. Joseph Cum- 
mings, one of the elders of his church. Then, in view of the 
expected advent of an important addition to the family, they 
rented a little cottage, and set up housekeeping in it. It is safe 
to say that the housekeeping was good, perhaps excellent, from 
the start. Mrs. Howe had been a housekeeper whose ideal it 
was to make a home where her husband and children and the 
passing stranger could find health and comfort flowing daily 
as from a living well, and in which her husband could do his 
work unhindered. Mrs. Palmer was afterwards able to do the 
same sort of housekeeping, and perhaps was thus competent 
from the start. She possessed one great advantage, however, 
over the young wives who go to housekeeping to-day ; they took 
with them to that little cottage "Caroline," a young slave 
woman, who had grown up in the house of Mrs. Palmer's 
mother. She was about the same age as Mrs. Palmer herself. 
She became at once their maid of all work. She must have 
been of capital stuff. She remained with them a faithful and 
efficient servant not only while negro slavery lasted, but till 
her mistress had died in 1888, and then continued to live in 
the broken household till her own death six years later. 

Into this little home came to bless it, and through it, thou- 
sands of other homes, a little child. He came July 26, 1842, a 
little hazel-eyed stranger with the imprint of the father strongly 
upon him. The father has given the following account of 
the child's arrival and of the emotions with which he was re- 
ceived : 

76 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

''The morning was opening its eye in the first gray streak upon the 
horizon, when a faint cry issued from an upper chamber in one of our 
Southern cities. Instantly the hurried steps were arrested of one 
pacing uneasily to and fro in the hall beneath. It was a cry which, 
when once heard, is never forgotten; the low, flat wail of a babe just 
entering a world to which it is a stranger — ^the symbol of pain, pre- 
monitory of all it must suffer between the cradle and the grave. It 
fell now, for the first time, upon ears which had ached through the 
weary night to catch the sound. The long suspense was over; and the 
deep sjrmpathy which had taken up into the soul the anguish that 
another felt in the body, gave place to exultation when the great peril 
was passed. The young father bowed himself on the spot where he 
stood, and poured out an overcharged heart in grateful praise to Him 
who had softened the curse to 'woman,' who, 'being deceived was in 
the trangression,' by the gracious 'Notwithstanding she shall be saved 
in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with 

"Solemn thoughts crowded together in the first parental conscious- 
ness; thoughts that deepened in significance afterwards but never are 
so startling as when they rush upon the soul in the first experience of 
the new relation. Shall they be embalmed in speech? Thousands in 
the rehearsal will recall the earliest flush of these emotions. 

" 'Little miniature of myself — ^bone and flesh of my own substance — 
to whom I stand, as the instrumental cause of thy being, a secondary 
creator!' claiming by equal right the ancestral name, and wresting it 
from me when I am low in death ! Soon to be strong and tall as I — 
coming each day more into the foreground and pushing me nearer to 
the edge over which I must topple at the last! Sole occupant then of 
all my trusts, the mysterious link that binds me to the generations that 
follow, in whom all my earthly immortality resides; and passing me 
on as but a flgure in the continuous succession! And yet, in all this 
formidable rivalry, I clasp this first born to my heart and with not th** 
least infusion of jealousy. 

" 'Little stranger, comest thou to solve or to darken the mystery of 
marriage ? Even at the fountain the stream was parted in two heads in 
the dualism of sex. Great enigma of nature, lying just at the begin- 
ning: man's unity broken by the separateness of woman — yet preserved 
in her derivation from his side, ideally existing still in him from whom 
she was taken. The complementary parts are reintegrated into the 
whole by a mystical union which blends the two spiritually into one. 
And now the joint life issues in a birth, the child gathers into itself 
the double being from which it sprung, and diversity returns to the 
unity whence it emerged. Strange reconciliation of Nature's contradic- 
tions — ^this third, in whom the one and the two are brought together 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. jj 

again. Tiny infant as thou art, thou dost yet interpret the symbol of 
marriage to those who produced thee. 

" 'An immortal soul, with dormant powers that by and by will com- 
pass the universe ; now soaring to the copestone of heaven, and measur- 
ing the stars; now turning the stone-leaves which beneath the earth 
record the histories of countless cycles. A soul which will at last 
strip off the encumbrance of clay, and sweep with exploring wing the 
vast eternity where God makes His dwelling place and I must stoop 
beneath this wing and teach its first flight, that will rise higher and 
higher in the far forever.' 

"A soul, alas, bom under the curse of sin, through me the guilty 
channel. And I must stand in the holy priesthood appointed of God, 
between it and eternal death. My soul must be in its soul's stead, and 
feel for it the Law's penal frown. My faith must lay her hand upon 
the covenant, 'I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee;' and 
plead the force of that great instrument with all the agony of human 
intercession." * 

The child was called for the father and for his maternal 
uncle, who as a young lad had perished in the Connecticut 
River, Benjamin Blakeley. The only son ever bom to them, 
he was not to pass beyond the pale of infancy in this life. But 
how rich God made them in him for the time ! And how im- 
portant that he who was to deal with the joys and sorrows, 
the privileges, duties and responsibilities of parenthood, in so 
influential a way, should have practical experience of the re- 
lation himself. We shall see them mourning around the little 
one's bier in less than two years; but who shall say that his 
coming was not fraught with consequences sufficient to com- 
pensate for all the sorrow ? 

The First Presbyterian Church of Savannah had been or- 
ganized in the summer of 1827, of persons who had withdrawn 
from the Independent Presbyterian Church of that city, four- 
teen in number. Amongst these had been Lowell Mason, the 
great composer of sacred music. In organizing, the churcli 
had elected Messrs. Lowell Mason, Joseph Cumming and G. 
G. Paries as elders. The Rev. John Boggs had become stated 
supply of the church early in 1828, and pastor November 30, 
1828, to December i, 1829. For nearly two years ensuing the 
church had been without a regular pastor, depending on tem- 
porary supplies. In 1831, Rev. Charles Colcock Jones had be- 
gun his ministry. After a year and a half of service as pastor, 

*See the Broken Home, pp. S to 8. 

78 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

feeling called to give his time wholly to missionary labors 
amongst the negroes, Mr. Jones had resigned. Meanwhile he 
had been instrumental in giving the church an impetus to 
growth, and in securing the initial steps looking to the erection 
of a house of worship. Following upon his pastorate had come 
a series of stated supplies. The next pastorate had been that of 
Rev. Joseph L. Jones from April 2y^ 1837, to his death in 1841. 
The church had thus had a succession of short pastorates, in- 
terspersed with stated supplyships. The members were not 
numerous, but amongst them was not a little stalwart Pres- 
byterian stuff. 

While preaching the sermon dedicatory of the present edi- 
fice of this church, on the 9th of June, 1872, Benjamin M. 
Palmer himself described the session of the church as it ex- 
isted during the period of his pastorate as follows : 

"It would require little effort to reproduce the old session of thirty 
years ago; the faithful body-guard of the young pastor whose in- 
experience was then first learning how it should 'behave itself in the 
house and kingdom of God, which is the church of the living God, 
the pillar and ground of the truth/ Here, just upon the right, sat 
the patriarchal Maxwell, an Israelite in whom there was no guile; 
who united the simplicity of the child with the prudence of the sage ; in 
whose fatherly heart the children of sorrow and care ever found 
shelter, and whose word or smile was a perpetual benediction to the 
weary and worn. There, in front, and near the middle of the house, 
was the unbent figure of Joseph Gumming, with the steel-gray eye and 
compressed lip, the very symbol of decision and power; whose broad 
intellect measured truth in the grandeur of her proportions, and whose 
massive will crushed difficulties, as bars of iron are sometimes bent 
in a giant's grip. A few pews in advance of him was present the 
honest Grabtree, the frankness of whose nature was like the open 
sea, with which in earlier days he held communion; positive in his 
judgment, as those are apt to be whose only education has been hard 
experience, and whose practical wisdom was gathered in the same 
school. There, upon the left, sat the John-like Ingersoll, whose gen- 
tleness distilled like the dew and softened all about him; whose 
counsels were always of peace, and whose loving spirit fitted him 
so early to go up and lie upon the Savior's bosom; whilst a few steps 
in the rear of him, was the humble and timid Faries, with a gift in 
prayer that I have never heard equalled since ; and a memory so steeped 
in the language of David and Paul that his petitions at the mercy-seat 
seemed like the breathings of the Holy Ghost. These it may be 
proper to distinguished as the 'Overseers' appointed to feed the church 
of God, purchased with his own blood. But the roll of those who 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. 79 

gathered around the sacramental board would sound very like precious 
names, — as of Richardson, G)pp, Ferguson, Sturtevant, Bernard, and 
others — ^wntten in the book of life, and now at the marriage supper of 
the Lamb in Heaven."' 

In this church he had a good field for a young minister of 
his energy and his rich endowment of gifts, — a good field for 
him notwithstanding his inexperience. It would have proven 
one of too much work for all save a few young ministers. They 
would have been reduced to empty talkers, or have been broken 
in health. He felt the strain oif it himself, as will appear ; but 
he had very unusual resources. In one way or another, he 
could appear before his people three times a week with some- 
what worthy of their hearing and heeding. 

His ordination and installation as pastor of the church did 
not take place until he had served the people for several months. 
They had awaited the convenience of the Presbytery of Georgia, 
the only Presbytery in the State at the time. On Sabbath 
morning, March 6, the Presbytery, being in session proceeded 
to the ordination. By special invitation, the Rev. Edward 
Palmer, then an Independent Presbyterian minister in South 
Carolina, had come over to preach the sermon in connection 
with the ordination of his son. He preached on Ezekiel 30 : 7, 
latter clause : "Therefore, thou shalt bear the word at my mouth 
and warn them from me." The Rev. Robert Quarterman pre- 
sided and put the constitutional questions to licentiate and peo- 
ple; and after the ordaining prayer, the Rev. Qiarles Colcock 
Jones delivered the charge to the newly ordained and installed 
bishop, and the Rev. I. S. K. Axson that to the people. 

Mr. Palmer threw himself with great zeal into his work. 
He rejoiced in every part of his labors. Rarely is there found 
such perfect adaptation to every part of the ministerial work 
as existed in his case. He Relighted in the study of the Bible 
and the great theologians, and the connected philosophical and 
psychological subjects. He exulted in preaching. Speech- 
making was the function to which he had been born. He threw 
himself into it with joy. The pulpit was his throne and he had 
been made a king in it by the imposition of the Almighty hand. 
By his bearing, his tact, unfeigned sympathy, and the confi- 

' Quoted in the Historical Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church, 
Savannah, Ga., by Wm. Harden, p. 25. 

8o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

dence and love he inspired, his pastoral work soon came to be 
a delightful part of his labors. 

Nevertheless, his ideals being very high, before a long period 
had elapsed, he began to feel keenly the burden of preparation 
for preaching. He himself, in the address "In Memoriam, 
Rev. I. S. K. Axson, D.D.,"' which was delivered June 14, 
1891, in the Independent Presbyterian Church, of Savannah, 
Ga., has described and defined in part, just where and how it 
pressed most heavily, and has told us of the cure to which he 
was pointed for the uneasiness occasioned by the burden, in 
the following words: 

'There is an experience somewhat dark and painful, which these 
pastors around me will verify as occurring in the life of every young 
preacher. It is when he has fairly used up the elementary knowledge 
which prepared him for entrance upon the sacred office, and he sinks 
under the oppressive sense of mental exhaustion. He finds himself 
confronted with responsibilities of which he cannot be divested, ex- 
cept at death, and which he feels wholly incapacitated to fulfill. He has 
spoken all he ever knew without the hope of another fresh thought 
as long as he may live. There is for him, apparently, neither retreat 
nor progress. It was in this trying crisis that the speaker took refuge 
in the fatherly confidence of Dr. Willard Preston, then in the fifty- 
seventh year of his age, and not far from the middle of his long 
pastorSite here of four and twenty years. Blessed servant of God, 
how vividly at this moment do I recall his genial presence, the 
kindly smile flitting like a wave of sunlight over his placid face, with 
a gentle humor lurking still in the corner of his eyes! How tenderly 
he took me to his heart and suffered me to nestle in his bosom ! From 
that hour I have loved him with the reverent affection of a son. 
Without any show of patronage or of supercilious condescension, he 
showed how this experience must come sooner or later to every ingen- 
uous student; how this shallowness of present knowledge would whet 
the appetite for the truth lying in the unfathomed depths yet to be 
explored; how needful this lesson of humility was to forestall the self- 
consequence and offensive vanity so ipt to be engendered in those 
whose teachings are accustomed to be received with entire deference 
by others. Then tearing a leaf from his own record, he exposed the 
secret of a like humiliation in his earlier years, and, pausing to lay 
his hand upon the Sacred Book, he pointed to the inexhaustible treas- 
ures hid therein, and, as answering to these, he alluded to the depths of 
Christian experience lying yet undeveloped in my own heart, which 
would be opened by the Divine Spirit to all the truth contained in the 

•pp. 6 and 7. 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. 8i 

Scriptures themselves. It was another Elisha opening the eyes of 
the young man to behold the mountain full of horses and chariots 
of fire round about From this 'time forth there lingered no fear of 
future bankruptcy in the ministry of the Word." 

Feeling obliged to study broadly and thoroughly, Mr. Palm- 
er resolved to discard writing his sermons and preaching 
from manuscript; resolved to prepare the matter with great 
care and the plans. of his discourses and to get the plans well 
into his memory, but to depend on the inspiration of the mo- 
ment for language in which to clothe his explicatory thoughts. 
His natural gifts of speech, inbred correctness as to form, and 
vigorous training as a debater and orator in every school from 
the Walterboro Academy to the University of Georgia, came 
now to his help. He succeeded splendidly in his new departure, 
whilst most men so young and inexperienced would have failed. 
His preaching after his new fashion was vastly more acceptable 
than his former preaching had been. His mental excitement in 
the pulpit was necessarily greater. Responding to the de- 
mand to clothe the skeleton sermon he held in memory in fit- 
ting words as delivered, he inevitably underwent the exhilar- 
ating labor of recasting as well as reclothing the whole dis- 
course. His exhilaration was imparted to his audience through 
noble speech, the commerce of his fine eyes, his graceful ges- 
tures, and his whole bearing. 

Being able to preach after this sort of preparation, he could 
command the time previously occupied in the laborious writing 
of his long discourses, in the study of the Scriptures and of 
such collateral works as he might be specially interested in from 
time to time. 

From a universal index, which he apparently began to keep 
while he was in Savannah, we learn that he was not only read- 
ing some of the leading theological reviews and an occasional 
book of travel and history, but that he was studying certain 
subjects profoundly, e. g., the evidences of Christianity, the 
doctrine of justification and of sacrifice, and especially the na- 
ture and place of the atonement in the scheme of Christian re- 
demption. He seems to have studied profoundly Witsius, 
On the Covenants, Magee, on the Atonement and Sacrifices, 
the Works of John Owen and John Howe, Calvin's "Insti- 
tutes," Dwight's and Dick's Theologies, — not the whole of the 
works but considerable parts. He seems to have read quite a 
string of works on "inspiration ;" and a considerable number of 


82 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

works on church government, and to have done special reading 
on the place of children in the church. Kurtz's "History of the 
Old Covenant" received considerable attention ; Boston's "Four- 
fold State," etc. 

This breadth of study as well as thoroughness was of im- 
portance in the part he was to play subsequently in very com- 
manding positions. Indeed, it was essential. Mr. Palmer was 
to serve his church in functions wherein he needed the richest 
scriptural and theological furnishing as well as all his wonder- 
ful oratorical gifts. 

Bred up in the home of a pastor of wonderful efficiency, 
who laid great stress on the importance of the minister's pas- 
toral functions, he naturally threw himself into pastoral work 
just so far as sickness and other emergencies demanded, and 
as far as the interests of those committed to his care seemed to 
him to demand it. He paid many social calls, too, believing 
that he could thus draw people first to himself and then per- 
haps, to his Lord. Nevertheless, he was more jealous of the 
time so spent than he became toward the end of his life, when 
he could better afford to spend more time outside of the study. 

He possessed somewhat of the headiness of youth during 
this period. From a child he had had a fondness for having 
his own way. In that he was not, as in some other respects, 
singular, however. It was soon to become a mark with Mr. 
Palmer that he could secure his own way with those with whom 
he had to do by gracious tact. He was rarely to put himself in 
a position in which he might meet open defiance on the part 
of a member of a church, or stubborn refusal, or any similarly 
unpleasant conduct. In his later days he sometimes illustrated 
what he called his "youthful rashness" in the Savannah pas- 
torate by the following incident: In his church there, there 
was a member peculiarly gifted in prayer. He had been called 
upon several fimes to lead the congregation in prayer and had 
always done so with evident edification ; but at length he suf- 
fered, while leading them in their supplications, a sort of stage 
fright. He subsequently came to Mr. Palmer and asked him 
not to call on him again, declaring that he could not make the 
attempt to lead the people thereafter. Mr. Palmer tried to 
reason with him ; and finding that he could do nothing by rea- 
son or persuasion, told him that he intended to call on him as 
before. At an early meeting, perhaps the next One, Mr. Palmer 
called on him to lead in prayer. There was no response. Af- 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. 83 

ter a little the pastor repeated his call to the brother to lead 
the meeting in prayer. There was no response to this second 
call. After a moment the determined young pastor said: 

"Brother , we shall just sit here till you lead us in 

prayer." This was too much for the timid but excellent btpther 
appealed to. He led the meeting at once, and in an uplifting 
prayer; and thenceforth never failed to respond when called 

His daring course was followed by good results in this in- 
stance. But it is said that when asked in his old age whether 
he would repeat the process in a similar case, he would smile 
and say I "No, I think that is a case of God's overruling the 
rashness of my youth for good. Had the circumstances of 
God's ordering been different my rashness might have been 
followed by much evil." The following incident will show 
that this daring young pastor was, in personal work, a skilful 
fisherman of men. During the revival to be referred to after 
a little, a young friend dropped in for a week's sojourn with 
him in his home. He appeared annoyed at the presence of the 
revival and would have left but for kindly solicitations to re- 
main. Mr. Palmer did not even ask him to attend church. 
On the contrary he gave him to understand that he could do 
as he pleased. The youth, however, chose to attend, having 
nothing better to do. After a little he developed a restlessness 
and an irritation of manner. 

"Thus," to let Mr. Palmer tell the story in his own words, "matters 
moved on from day to day, till the Sabbath came and was passed, 
and on Monday the conflict reached its crisis. I was writing in my 
study as he came in and sat beside my desk — breaking out, after a little, 
in the petulant remark : 'You preachers are the most contradictory men 
in the world; you say, and you unsay, just as it pleases you, without 
the least pretension to consistency.' 

"Somehow I was not surprised at this outbreak; for though no sign 
of religious feeling had been evinced, there was a restlessness in his 
manner which satisfied me that he was secretly fighting against the 
truth. I thought it best to treat the case in an off-hand sort of way, 
and with seeming indifference so^ as to cut him off from all opportunity 
to coquette with the Gospel. Without arresting my pen, I simply an- 
swered, 'Well, what now?* 

" *Why, yesterday you said in your sermon that sinners were perfectly 
helpless in themselves — ^utterly unable to repent or believe and then 
turned square round and said that they would all be damned if they 
did not' 

84 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"*WcII, my dear E , there is no use in our quarreling over this 

matter; either you can or you cannot. If you can, all I have to say 
is that I hope you will just go and do it' 

''As I did not raise my eyes from my writing, which was continued 
as I spoke, I had no means of marking the effect of these words, until, 
after a moment's silence, with a choking utterance, the reply came back: 
*I have been trying my best for three whole days, and cannot.* 'Ah,* 
said I, laying down the pen; 'that puts a different face upon it; we 
will go then and tell the difficulty straight out to God.' 

"We knelt together and I prayed as though this was the first time in 
human history that this trouble had ever arisen ; that here was a soul 
in the most desperate extremity, which must believe or perish, and 
hopelessly unable of itself, to do it; that, consequently it was just the 
case calling for Divine interposition; and pleading most earnestly for 
the fulfillment of the Divine promise. Upon rising I offered not one 
single word of comfort or advice. Youth is seldom disingenuous or 
stubborn, and the difficulty was recog^iized as purely practical. So I 
left my friend in his powerlessness in the hands of God, as the only 
helper. In a short time he came through the struggle, rejoicing in 
the hope of eternal life. 

"The fact simply is, that 'the carnal mind is enmity against God: 
for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be.* The 
danger is not so much that the sinner will be crushed into despair by 
the clear apprehension of this truth, as that he will fail to realize it at 
all. They wrap themselves in the fatal delusion that they are com- 
petent to repent at will, and so they sport with the whole matter as 
being perfectly under their control. The issue becomes fearfully 
momentous, as soon as they practically discover that they are, in them- 
selves, utterly without strength, and therefore wholly dependent on 
the sovereign mercy of God. It is uiiwise to strip the truth of its 
apparent sternness by any attempts at metaphysical explanation, or 
to blunt its edge by offering premature comfort It is better to deal 
honestly with it as a tremendous fact, and then leave the awakened 
sinner face to face with his peril, thrown back in this solemn crisis 
upon the pledged mercy of God, in Christ. 'Shall I bring to the 
birth, and not cause to bring forth ? saith the Lord.* '* * 

This incident indicates as well as a sermon of the period 
would do, the kind of a gospel he then held forth, in all its 

He found time to lend a helping hand to the advancement of 

*See Southwestern Presbyterian, Thursday, August 5, 1869, under 
caption, "Practical Uses of the Doctrine of Inability.'* 

Pastor of Church at Savannah. 85 

religion outside the bounds of his own congregation. During 
the winter of 1841-1842, a season of revival was enjoyed in 
the churches of Savannah, beginning in the Independent Pres- 
byterian Church and "chiefly under the preaching of that emi- 
nent servant of God, Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Stiles.'' In this reviv- 
al all the pastors bore their part ; and the young Timothy took 
his turn with the others at the sacred desk. In the following 
summer, the pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church 
was long absent, owing to sickness, and the pastoral services 
of Mr. Palmer were given to the people of that church so far 
as his duty to his own people permitted. In waiting upon their 
sick and in conducting their weekly prayer-meetings he found 
some outlet for surplus energies, built them up in their Chris- 
tian life and knit them to himself, as we shall hereafter see. 
During the less than fifteen months of service in the Savan- 
nah church, Mr. Palmer had won the love of the people in a 
remarkable degree. Under his care the church had flourished. 
Additions had been made to the membership. The church as 
a whole had been edified. Attention had been called to the 
church as a congregation where the people were really taught 
and delightfully taught. They abhorred the thought of giving 
him up. But that thought was like the ghost of Banquo; it 
would not down. Other churches were laying eyes on him; 
and meant to have him if he could be had. Even back in the 
forties people liked a young preacher that could preach and be- 
have after Palmer's fashion; and the staid old church in the 
Upper Country capital city of South Carolina, under the eaves 
of Columbia Seminary, made a successful demand for him. 
It was a formidable field but a most important one. Those peo- 
ple had had Thornwell as their pastor. He was then frequently 
heard by them, for as president of South Carolina College 
he was often accessible to them as pulpit supply when for any 
cause they had no preacher of their own. He would be an audi- 
tor of Palmer's in Columbia. The Columbia congregation al- 
most adored him. But then Palmer could preach to a large 
resident audience of worthy and influential people, have in his 
pews the Columbia theological students and teach them, by do- 
ing it, how to open God's word to the people ; during term time 
of the college, address in addition, a considerable proportion 
of college students, amongst whom would be the coming influ- 
ential men of South Carolina ; and whilst the legislature was in 
session he would have as hearers many of the public men of 

86 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the entire State. It was a most important post, and the reader 
can imagine how this call would be pressed in letters from 
grave professors, legal lights, and other earnest servants of the 
church, pleading with this young man of just twenty-five to 
come and fill this great post. 

In the next chapter we shall see how he acquitted himself 
in that place of vantage and responsibility. 


(January, 1843— October, 1855.) 

The Work to Which he Went at Columbia, S. C — ^The Zeal with 
Which he Threw Himself Into his Work. — ^His Pulpit Min- 
istrations.— His Zeal in the Application of Discipune. — His 
Labors as a Pastor. — Illustrative Incidents. — ^Th^ Loss of his 
Mother. — ^The Loss of Little Benjamin Blakeley. — His Erec- 
tion OF THE Present Noble Church Edifice, the First Presby- 
terian Church, Columbia. — His Dedicatory Sermon, Showing 
his Ideals in 1853. — ^The Results of his Labors in the Growth 
OF HIS Church. 

AS indicated in the previous chapter, when the Rev. Mr. 
Palmer went to Columbia, he entered a most important 
field. The members of the State Legislature, and of the courts 
of justice, the student bodies of the State College and of the 
Columbia Theological Seminary, during their respective term 
times, presented severally great opportunities for a wide, per- 
vasive and exceptionally potent influence. In addition to 
these special opportunities afforded in the Columbia field, there 
were in the church itself one hundred and sixteen white mem- 
bers and twelve colored members, embracing many families 
of commanding position and influence in the capital city; 
which, next to Charleston, was the most important city in the 
State of South Carolina, and outranked as an educational 
center even the old mother city on the Cooper and the Ashley. 
The church was well organized and officered, at least as con- 
cerned ruling elders. Amongst the elders when he entered 
upon the pastorate were such men as William Law — ^that man 
of artless simplicity, unaffected humility, unshaken firmness, 
wonderful guilelessness, strict veracity, spotless honesty, simple 
and sincere piety, and business abilities, a very great friend 
of Columbia Seminary; Sidney Crane, the man of unbending 
integrity, wise counsels, and godly influence ; and G. T. Snow- 
den, — ^the spiritual son of Dr. Romeyn of New York, tutored 
in tfie faith by Rev. John Holt Rice, D.D., of Richmond, the 
man of prayer and works, another friend of Columbia Theo- 
logical Seminary, a man of theological acumen, a sound Old 

88 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

School man who magnified the grace of Christ. To the session 
were added worthy compeers in Mr. James Martin,^ 1845, Mr. 
Andrew E. Crawford, 1846, and Professor R. T. Brumby, 1852. 

It was his duty to feed this congregation on the Word ; and 
in union with his elders, to guide all its members in their daily 
living as far as possible in accord with the teachings of the 
Word; to bring the power of God in discipline to bear upon 
their lives ; and to set the whole force to work for the progress 
of Christ's kingdom to the end of the world. The responsibili- 
ties were huge and Mr. Palmer felt them to be such. 

He threw himself with extraordinary zeal into the effort 
to measure up to the demands of the situation — ^particularly 
to the obligation to indoctrinate his people thoroughly, and 
to secure their disciplinary tuition according to the principles 
revealed in the word of God. Nor was he dead to his obliga- 
tion to excite and lead his church into worthy missionary en- 
deavor, as many noble sermons, lectures and addresses on the 
subject make clear. , 

His own view of his relations to his new charge as preacher 
he set forth with elaborate care in his inaugural sermon in the 
Columbia church, January 29, 1843. He took for his text the 
words of Balaam, son of Beor, to Balak, Ntun. 22 : 38 : "And 
Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I 
now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God 
putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak." After a historical 
introduction setting forth the circumstances under which the 
text was originally uttered, the preacher began : 

"Beloved brethren and friends, I have selected this passage as pecu- 
liarly appropriate to the position which I occupy before you this day. 
At your own call, in the good providence of God, I appear to you 
in some sort as the prophet of God. Lo, I am here. And, if I may 
adopt this expression as my own in reference to my presence before 
you, with what emphasis may I repeat what follows! Have I now 
any power at all to say anything? The word that God putteth into my 
mouth, that shall I speak. It is not my design to run any parallel 
between the case of Balaam and that of the Gospel minister. God 
forbid that those who preach salvation through Christ should find their 
type in this avaricious, ungodly and malevolent prophet. In many 

* Mr. Martin had served in the church as elder prior to this election, 
but his relation as elder had terminated on his removal from the place. 
Having returned he was chosen to the exercises of the functions 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 89 

points they differ widely. He came to curse God's people ; they come to 
bless and comfort He came at the instigation of the wicked, allured 
by the prospect of gain; they come at the call of the pious to become 
the servant of all. He came, Providence allowing and overruling; 
they come, Providence blessing and commanding. Still the language 
of the text and the great truth inculcated in the history, are pertinent 
to our purpose: which is briefly to show the nature of the ministerial 
oMce and the grounds upon which its authority and influence are based" 

Having thus announced his subject, he proceeded to the 
statement, explication, and argument in support of the follow- 
ing propositions by way of developing it: i. That true minis- 
ters of the Gospel are specially called to their otHce by God 
himself, and their fields of labor specially designated. 2. That 
all true ministerial ability and authority are derived from God, 
Having argued these propositions in a very able manner, the 
preacher closed by reflecting upon the great practical impor- 
tance of his theme, which discovers to us: (i) The relation 
which the Gospel minister sustains to God; (2) the relation 
which he sustains to his people; and (3) the source whence he 
should desire his encouragement. In Mr. Palmer's view the 
minister of the Gospel is "a messenger from God to speak only 
the word that is put into his mouth." He may "not invent or 
add anything to his message. His sole care must be to inquire 
what God the Lord will say." Touching his relation to the 
people, Mr. Palmer holds, that "the pastoral commission is 
no contract formed merely for the pleasure and amusement of 
the hearers. The pastor is not called upon to cater to the 
various tastes which may perchance prevail among his audi- 
tors. His duty is to study God's Book, to expound its doc- 
trines, to enforce its precepts, to urge its motives, to present 
its promises, to recite its warnings, to declare its judgments." 
In fine, the minister is to look for his encouragement to God 
rather than to man. 

The conception of the ministerial office which he thus set 
forth was thoroughly Biblical and is worthy of all young min- 
isters' pondering. It was prophetic of the character of his 
teaching throughout the Columbia pastorate and to the end of 

He preached on a great range of topics. His aim was to set 
forth all Biblical truths in their due proportion. There lies 
before us a huge pile of briefs of sermons, lectures, and se- 
ries of sermons and lectures, of this period. These have not 

90 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

been arranged in any topical or strictly chronological order. 
We turn them over and read their titles : "Apologetic Lectures 
on Christianity," "The Comparative Value of Moral Evidence 
in Support of Christianity," "The Amount of Moral Evidence 
in Support of Christianity," "The Father Glorified by the Son," 
"Folly of Atheism," "Justice of Final Condemnation," "The 
Gospel, the Power of God," "Sin an Evil and Bitter Thing," 
"Grace Superabounding," "Opposition Between Law and 
Grace," "Inward Empire of the Gospel," "Salvation by Hope," 
"Darkness in the Soul," "If the Foundations be Destroyed, 
What can the Righteous Do?" "Righteousness and Strength," 
"Christ in us," "Mortification of Sin," "Bearing the Cross," 
"Mediatorial Authority of Christ," "Human Apostasy," "Cor- 
ruption of Mankind," "Man Created in the Image of God," 
"Practical uses of Predestination," "Sinners Waxing Worse 
and Worse," "The Inward Witness," "Abounding in the Work 
of the Lord," "Victory over Death by Christ," "God's Justice 
and AflSictions," "Death to the Law and by the Law," "Ex- 
cellency of the Knowledge of Christ," "Grod's Holiness the 
Basis of all Worship," "Influence of Christians on Kindred," 
"Foundation of the Universal Gospel Offer," "Believer's Mar- 
riage with Christ Consummated," "Future Punishment," 
"Brotherly Love," "Antimonianism Latent in Arminianism," 
"Lectures on the Larger Catechism," "Believer's Witness for 
God," "Christian Progress," "Spirit of Adoption," "Christ's 
Constraining Love," "The Lord's Supper an Instituted Ordi- 
nance," "God's Presence," "Past Feeling," "The Providence of 
God," "Predestination Consistent with Free Agency," "The 
Law a Measure of Sanctification," "Lectures on the Messianic 
Psalms," "Proofs of the Doctrine of Decrees," "Christ's Life 
the Life of the Believer," "Sanctification of Christ," "The 
Transfiguration," "Effects of Repentance," "Men are as they 
Think," "Crucify the Flesh," "A Series of Lectures to the 
Young," "Spirituality of Worship," "Alternation of Good and 
Evil," "Bicentenary of the Westminster Assembly," "Believers 
the Workmanship of God and Created unto Good Works," 
"Uses of Affliction," "God's Government over Nations," "Sanc- 
tification of the Sabbath," "God's Patience to the Reprobate," 
"Fatherly Discipline," "Justification and Sanctification," "Spir- 
itual Leanness," "Sinners Self-Destroyed," "Ministers Ambas- 
sadors for Christ," "God not the Author of Sin," "Christ the 
Hope of His Church," "The Impossibility of Salvation by the 

The Pastor at Columbia^ S. C. 91 

Law," "The Doctrine of a Special Providence," "Missionary 
Lectures," "Office of the Law," "Pleasure in Unrighteousness," 
"Fear of Death a Bondage," "Qirist's Commission to the 
Church," "Godly Sorrow and the Sorrow of the World," "Uni- 
versal Salvation Disproved," "Regeneration," "The Son of 
Man a Savior," "Christians' Witness Against Themselves," 
"Greatness of Revealed Truth," "The Soul Lost by Attending 
to Trifles," "The Covenant with Adam," "Deity of Christ," 
"Duty of Family Instruction," "Duty of tihe Church to Educate 
the Ministry," "Infant Baptism Warranted by the Church 
Charter ;" many briefs on phases of prayer, "Grace Sufficient," 

During the entire Columbia pastorate his pulpit ministra- 
tions were no less remarkable for their fitness to instruct and 
to edify than to attract and to delight. A born speaker to the 
people, a well-equipped theologian, commanding largely the 
treasures of Biblical knowledge, his skill in handling themes 
and audiences grew with the months. He possessed a growing 
faculty of clear explication, popular but accurate statement of 
points, luminous and noble illustrations. 

It is interesting to peep into his study and remark his method 
in the preparation of his sermon^. He may be seen after he has 
made choice of his texts, consulting various translations, and 
the original itself, and rapidly making up his mind as to their 
precise meanings. He may be seen to consult a few standard 
commentaries, but not many; the text itself in its context is 
the source whence he draws the meaning. He now puts a cigar 
into his mouth and begins to walk diagonally across his study 
floor. If you are a close observer, you will already have noted 
that the furniture in his study is so placed that it gives him one 
diagonal across the study as a clear path, and that the carpet 
shows threadbare along that diagonal. He has been making 
sermons there before. He wears away the threads of the 
carpet but weaves the threads of mighty discourses in place. 
Some say he forms polished sentences, sentence by sentence, 
and files them above his brilliant brown eyes to be called up in 
order on the near Sabbath. He says he does not, that he "files" 
away the plan of the discourse in his mind, but that while 
he thinks through the discourse over and over, he makes no 
attempt to store the verbiage of the dress of that plan, meaning 
to body forth his sermon in any words given him at the moment 
of delivery. 

92 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

When he came before the people it was generally with a 
great theme. Most themes from God's word looked big as 
handled by him; nor did he stint himself as fo time in han- 
dling them. He preached forty minutes, fifty minutes, sixty 
minutes, seventy minutes, eighty minutes, ninety minutes, rare- 
ly more. His average sermon was perhaps, not under fifty 
minutes. During a considerable portion of his pastorate in Co- 
lumbia he preached three times a day, to the same congrega- 
tion, — in the forenoon, the afternoon and in the evening. This 
much preaching of this sort shows clearly his zeal to indoctrin- 
ate his people. It is a clear proof of his wonderful powers, 
also. Only a very attractive preacher could have held the same 
congregation for such a large portion of the successive Lord's 

In later years he came to look on the effort to hold the 
third service as largely unprofitable both to congregation and 
preacher. He was wont to tell a funny story of an experience 
of his in an afternoon meeting. While preaching one sultry 
Sunday afternoon he saw that a member of his congregation 
had been overcome with sleep and was bending forward more 
and more toward the bench in front; that every nod of the 
man's head was bringing that organ closer to the back of his 
neighbor's bench. Trying to preach, he could not avoid cal- 
culating the time that must elapse before the sleeper should re-. 
ceive a rude shock. Suddenly the victim of Morpheus gave his 
head the expected blow, — a rousing one. Startled, he jumped 
to his feet. Just then a cock, within hearing, gave a lusty 
crow; and the suddenly awakened man yelled, "Fire, fire!" 
at the top of his voice. Then looking around, seeing where he 
was and comprehending the exhibition he had made of himself, 
he slunk back into his seat. 

This was one of the very few instances in which Dr. Palmer 
was distracted from his theme. Usually nothing diverted him. 

If throughout this period Dr. Palmer was energetic in 
teaching his people, he was no less marked by his loyalty to 
Christ, the head of the Church, in the application of His power 
in the sphere of discipline. Mr. Palmer was at the time really 
as much a believer in the efficacy of discipline and the obliga- 
tion to its use as John Calvin ever was. The records of the 
session of his church in Columbia are the sufficient attestation 
to this. The contingent of colored members furnished occa- 
sions of discipline out of all proportion to their numbers ; but 

The Pastor at Columbia^ S. C. 93 

occasions of discipline were frequently found in the life of the 
white members of the church. It was faithfully meted out to 
all members in need of it regardless of condition or color. 
Excommunication was not infrequent. Suspension was more 
common. In the records of July 19, 1847, we have a curious 
memento of a past social institution as well as of his session's 
consideration in dealing with a negro member. We read: 

"A request was presented by Ned, a servant of Mrs. Quigley and a 
member of this church, that he might be allowed to take a wife in town, 
notwithstanding his separation from a woman in Fairfield with whom 
he had heretofore been living. Different members of the session hav- 
ing made diligent enquiries into this case, the following facts ap- 
peared: That Ned had never been lawfully married to the woman 
in Fairfield, though at the time of his joining the church he had re- 
garded her as his wife ; that they were now permanently and effectively 
separated by the wishes of their respective owners ; and that the woman 
had been unfaithful to him. Upon these grounds in regard to which 
the session had been at pains to gather evidence; and in consideration 
of the temptation to sin which beset Ned in his single estate, and in 
consequence of the desire to do right manifested in his taking counsel 
of the session, it was agreed to grant him the desired permission." 

The rfiost interesting disciplinary struggle was that whose 
history is told in the following excerpts from the sessional 
records : * 

"It was brought to the notice of the session that at a public ball 
given recently in compliment to General Shields,* four of the members 
were in attendance, besides the children of several other members ; also 
at a fair recently held by the order of the Odd Fellows, raffling was 
cotmtenanced and participated in by several members of the church. 
The object of this meeting of the sessv)n was * to confer as to the best 
method of arresting this comparatively new tide of evil influence set- 
ting in upon the church. 

• From the Records, December 22, 1847. 

"Soon after the Mexican War General James Shields visited G>- 
lumbia. The Legislature was in session. The Famous Palmetto Regi- 
ment had served in his brigade in the Mexican War; he reported to 
a full house how nobly they had behaved. Columbia was wild with 
enthusiasm and gave a big ball for the entertainment of General 
Shields in which these members of the First Presbyterian Church took 

*The pastor called this meeting. 

94 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

''It appeased in conversation that considerable diversity of opinion 
prevailed among the members as to the impropriety of dancing and 
the sin under certain circumstances, of attending public balls. In view 
of this fact, and the fact that some of these irregularities, as for in- 
stance raffling, have probably been committed thoughtlessly, perhaps 
ignorantly, it was deemed inexpedient by the session to enter upon any 
immediate and active course of discipline. A paper was then sub- 
mitted by the pastor designed as a testimony against these and 
similar evils which he suggested should be read from the pulpit, as 
the expression of the views, and an exponent to the church of the 
course of discipline which would hereafter be pursued by the session. 
The document being a stringent one, binding the session, hereafter, to 
a definite procedure, after a long conversation, it was thought best 
to postpone a decision upon it till Friday night, or in order to allow 
for due reflection on the part of the session." 

From the records, December 24, 1847, *t appears that while 
the session was agreed as to the principles in the testimony 
Mr. Palmer would utter, "the majority could not agree upon 
the expediency of reading it in public. 

Upon this adverse action by his session, he promptly resigned, 
giving as his reason that his conscience would not permit him 
to be the pastor of a dancing church. Such at any rate tradi- 
tion affirms to have been his course. Whatever the inducement, 
the session speedily came to his way of thinking as the follow- 
ing from the Records, December 25, 1847, shows: 

''The design of this meeting was to reintroduce the subject of the 
preceding conferences, as it was felt that this matter was left in too 
indefinite a position, no action being had in the premises. 

"It was moved to reconsider the vote passed at the last meeting, set- 
ting aside the paper submitted by the pastor designed as a public 
testimony; which motion prevailed. The paper was then modified and 
adopted as a public testimony to be read from the pulpit on Sabbath 
morning and, in its amended form, is as follows: 

"According to that Scriptural platform of ecclesiastical order to which 
we as Presb3rterians adhere, the whole government of each particular 
church is committed to its own particular session. Among the acts, 
therefore, to which this body is competent, besides the receiving of 
members and administering the various kinds of discipline, is that of de- 
livering its testimony as a court of Jesus Christ, against such errors in 
doctrine and practice as are likely to prevail among the people com- 
mitted to their oversight. If 'damnable heresies' and injurious prac- 
tices arise, it is not only incumbent on the pastor as a preacher of the 
Gospel, thus to testify; but since the elders are equally with him Bishops, 
or Overseers, in the church of God ; since they equally hold their com- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 95 

mission from the Lord Jesus Christ, and since they exercise joint power 
with him in the Presbyterate, it is competent to them together with him, 
in their united capacity as a church court, to give a formal testimony 
against prevailing errors. Impressed with this view of their power and 
authority, and fully persuaded that very dangerous practices are be- 
ginning to obtain amongst us, the session of this church now raises 
its voice in solemn warning and remonstrance in reference to matters 
which they proceed herewith to specify. 

'In the first place we testify against the iniquitous practice of raffling 
at fairs. In relation to fairs themselves we do not feel called upon 
to give a formal opinion. We cannot but observe, however, that often 
they are accompanied with such evil doings as to lead us to suspect 
an inherent vice in this whole system of charity financiering. But 
raMing we are constrained unequivocally to condemn. The lot is a 
divine institution appointed for the purpose of rendering a divine de- 
cision in those cases which men are unable by ordinary methods to re- 
solve. On the part of the creature it is a solemn act of worship, as 
much so as prayer or praise. It is, moreover, a direct appeal to God as 
the moral governor of the world, to interpose directly in the manifesta- 
tion of his will. Obviously, therefore, to use the lot with irreverence 
or levity is to profane the name and perfections of God. It is plainly 
just such an offense as cursing aiid swearing and in direct violation of 
the third commandment. Nor is there the slightest difference as to 
the principle, between raffling and gambling; and the identity between 
them is seen in this, that the sin in both is the same, an irreverent use 
of the name and attributes of God. This use of the lot, moreover, is not 
only a profanation of the name of God, it is also a mockery of his 
government in the thoughtless appeal it makes to the interposition of 
God Should idle men challenge responses from the divine oracle in 
the most frivolous affairs, and in gratification of their mere whims? 
Of course it follows that church members who countenance raffling 
by any distinct overt act, as by the sale or purchase of chances, sub- 
ject themselves to the discipline of the church. 

"In the second place, the session delivers its testimony against fash- 
ionable worldly amusements, such as dancing parties, balls, the theater, 
the race course and such like. It may be difficult to draw accurately 
the line of demarcation between the lawful and unlawful pleasures of 
the Christian. We believe that this is wisely left in doubt, in order to 
test the piety and spiritual knowledge of the Lord's people. Yet there 
is one obvious principle which covers this whole case. Christians are 
witnesses for God, and among other things they must testify concern- 
ing the vanity of this present evil world. But if they participate in the 
chosen pleasures of the world they do it at the expense of that 
testimony they must bear for God. The amusements specified above 
are moreover the acknowledged badges of a worldly profession, in 

96 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

some sort the sacraments of allegiance to him who is the Prince and 
God of this world. In this view Christians cannot share in the same 
without in so far forth denying Christ. 

*'And as no Christian has the right at any time to suppress his right- 
eous testimony, so under no conceivable circumstances is he justified 
in attendance upon those forbidden amusements. 

"The session, too, is constrained to think that promiscuous dancing 
between the sexes is a practice injurious, and tends to immorality, 
and should be in every possible way discountenanced. Satisfied of the 
Scripturalness of these views, the session wishes to be tmderstood that 
the giving of balls and dancing parties, and attendance upon them, 
together with the theatre, the opera, and the race course, will be re- 
garded as serious offences against the order and purity of the church, 
which require the exercise in some one of its forms of a wholesome dis- 

"In the third and last place, the session delivers its most mature and 
earnest remonstrance to those Christian parents who permit their 
children, so long as they are minors and under their control, to attend 
such places of amusement as are prohibited to themselves. It is 
bitterly to be lamented that the standard of Christian education is so 
deplorably low ; and one aspect of this is the little restraint thrown upon 
youth as they grow up and plunge into the world. Christian parents 
should remember that at the baptism of their children they brought 
themselves under solemn covenant obligations from which no power on 
earth can divorce, while those children are yet minors. In the judg- 
ment of the session, the free indulgence of children when they begin 
to thirst for those pleasures which their parents as their natural spon- 
sors have forsworn in their behalf is in contravention of the baptismal 
covenant. And it becomes such indulgent parents to inquire, while they 
are mourning over the hardness and impenitency of their adult off- 
spring, if this is not righteous retribution of their infidelity to the 
most stringent oath which ever was imposed upon human beings. 
We believe that in the overwhelming majority of cases if Christian 
parents would make a firm stand and make a show of principle, the 
children would yield their own preferences with greater or less cheer- 
fulness, and thus a check would be opposed to that tide of worldli- 
ness and dissipation which sometimes threatens to sweep away all 
godliness from the land. It therefore becomes the duty of every church 
session to make diligent inquiry in all those cases where the children, 
still minors of professing parents, attend balls, dances, theatres and 
the like. And if such parents have not endeavored to use their in- 
fluence and authority to restrain their children, but have rather lent 
their sanction or consent, or connivance, the censures of the church 
should be dealt to these parents according to the demerits of each 
case, as though they had personally infringed the law of the church. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 97 

"In delivering now these conclusions which they have carefully 
weighed, the session would most earnestly and affectionately exhort 
their fellow Christians to remember whose they are and whom they 
serve, — ^that being redeemed not with corruptible things as silver and 
gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, they should glorify God 
in their bodies and in their spirits which are God's. Let us strive to 
walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time 
because the days are evil. Since we profess to be 'children of light,* 
let us 'have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but 
rather reprove them.* *Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in riot- 
ing and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife 
and envying.* 'But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not 
provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof/ But rather let us 
'live soberly, righteously, and godly,' in this present evil world, 'denying 
ungodliness and worldly lusts,' looking for and hastening unto the 
day of God, when the Son of Man shall be revealed to be glorified 
in his saints.' And to, 'as many as walk according to this rule, peace be 
on them and mercy and upon the Israel of God. Amen.' " 

His session went further, and asked him to preach a sermon 
on dancing, which sermon after it had been delivered, they 
had printed.* In the course of the episode Mr. Palmer publicly 
declared that "he would not baptize the children of any parents 
who taught them to dance."' It does not appear that he 
would have gone to quite such lengths in his later life, nor that 
he looked upon his views and course as the wisest in every par- 
ticular; but his general animus remained unchanged. 

He seems to have been just as energetic in pastoral work. 
The very summer preceding his disciplinary struggle, he and 
his session had divided the church and congregation into 
wards, each of which was subjected to pastoral visitation by 
the pastor and one elder working together. Throughout the 
entire pastorate he found time for many visits that seemed lit- 
tle other than social. They were commonly determined by the 
ultimate aim to strike a blow for the Master. He paid spe- 
cial attention to the sick, the needy, and all who were presuma- 
bly open to Christian guidance. Nor did he confine himself to 
people of his own flock. 

The following story of a bit of pastoral work by him in 
the year 185 1 shows somewhat as to the spirit with which he 

* Related in a letter of Rev. R H. Reid, dated April 13, 1904. 
'Letter of Basil Edward Lanneau, dated June 22, 1849. 


98 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

went about such labors for the Master and somewhat as to his 
tactfulness. He tells the story himself: 

« n 

'Ben/ said my father to me at the breakfast table, the morning 
after my arrival on one of the visits annually paid to the old home- 
stead, *do you remember your old schoolmate, H. P.?' 

"'Perfectly well,' was the reply; 'it would take more than twenty 
years to efface the recollection of the most intimate friend of my 

"'Well,' rejoined he, 'he has one foot in the grave, dying of con* 
sumption; and he is such an untamed bear that no one can ap- 
proach him. Possibly you may gain access on the score of old com- 
panionship; who knows what, through God's grace, may be the result 
of your visit?' 

"Let me here introduce to the reader the person concerning whom 
the above dialogue was held. H. P. was the only son of a widowed 
mother, whose indulgent love proved unable to cope with the passions 
of a headstrong and willful boy. Upon approaching manhood he broke 
away from every source of restraint, and soon lost every trace of virtue. 
In his swift declension he not only abandoned himself to vice in its 
lowest associations, but took an insane pleasure in setting public 
sentiment at defiance, until, for years, he had come to be regarded as 
an outcast and an outlaw. At the age of thirteen our paths in life 
diverged, and now, for the first time in twenty years, they crossed 

"Toward noon, when the morning hours of exhaustion should be 
over, the writer turned his steps slowly to the house of his invalid 
friend, upon the skirts of the village. Memory yielded up its stores 
from the buried past, at every footfall: the lessons conned together 
under the master's ferrule; and wild and noisy sports at recess, upon 
the vilkge green; and the playmates of those halcyon days — some of 
whom, aias, were sleeping beneath the turf, over whose early graves 
aged mourners had too sadly wept And now I was soon to look upon 
the most melancholy wreck of all. But somber as these reflections were, 
they only half prepared me to greet the specter which slowly glided 
into the parlor, leaning wearily upon a staff, and sinking, exhausted, 
even at this effort, upon the sofa by my side. 

'My dear H., it grieves me to the heart to find you thus.' 

'Yes, B , we have not met for twenty years; and if you had 

waited a few weeks longer, you must have searched for me in the 
graveyard of Old Bethel, where the solemn oaks droop with moss 
over the graves of a century/ 

"Reader, I had prayed the Lord to make me wise to win a soul, 
and I was burdened with my prayer. Laying the hand gently upon his 
knee, I said, affectionately, 'H., do not be angry with me, for the 


« 11 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 99. 

sake of 'ai|}d lang syne.' Let me tell you what most distresses me; 
it is that you are half way into eternity and so unready to die.' 

"Sepulchral as his own cough was the melancholy response: 'B , 

it is of no use to talk to me on the subject of religion ; I am a doomed 
man — as sure of hell as if already shut up in its vault of fire.' 
*0h ! H., my friend, how can you say so ?* 

'Because, B , I am a drunkard! and no drunkard shall in- 
herit the kingdom of God.' His eye flashed with an unearthly gleam, 
as he fiercely continued: 'You do not know what sort of a drunkard 
I am; I carry my jug to bed with me every night — it takes the place 
of my wife — and I pull from it so often that it can scarcely be said to 
be corked at all. If I could only break the bonds of this cruel habit, 
there might be hope for me; but I have tried, a thousand times, in 
vain. I am bound, hand and foot, with its accursed chains, and there 
is nothing left for me but to drink and be damned.' 

"Was it said only to the apostles, 'And it shall be given you in that 
same hour what ye shall speak?' Instantly I replied to this vehement 
and self-accusing speech: 'H., you entirely mistake the matter. What 
you need is a Savior to save you from your drunkenness; he shall 
be called Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins. The 
salvation from hell is only the result of this salvation from sin. You 
must come, dear H., to Jesus, as a drunkard, or not at all.' 

"With this, we bowed together in prayer, during which the poor 
emaciated frame shook with sobs, as though it would fall to pieces 
with the violence^ by which it was racked. 

"The interview was too exciting to be longer protracted; and during 
four days the writer was engrossed with a religious meeting then in 
progress. At its close, and just before returning to his home, he called 
to take a final farewell of one whom he was sure never to meet again 
upon earth. The same pale, wan countenance met his view as before, 
but now lighted up with a strange and happy radiance. 

« 'B , a wonderful change has passed over me since you were 

here, and I do not know what to make of it; it cannot be that I am 
a converted man?' 

'"I should not be in the least surprised, H., to find that you are; 
but tell me all about it.' 

"'Well,' he replied, 'when you went away I prayed God to have 
mercy upon my poor soul, and all at once the shackles fell off from 
me and I have been full of peace and joy ever since.' Pausing for a 
little fuller statement before committing myself to a reply, he resumed : 

" 'B , I ana a very ignorant man — ^it is many years since I have 

been within the walls of a church, and I have forgotten almost every- 
thing my pious old mother taught me at her knee. But I want to tell 
you what I think the Gospel is, and where I am wrong you will correct 
me.' Promising to be very honest in my criticism, he proceeded: *I 


loo Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

think then that we are all born into the world with wicked hearts, and 
guilty and condemned from our birth; that Jesus Christ is come into 
the world to save us, if we will only trust entirely in him — but that 
He won't be a half Savior to anybody. I must not do the best I can 
and then come to him to complete what remains; but I must come at 
once, just so, and let him do the whole work, from beginning to end. 
He will be a whole Savior, or none. Is that the Gospel?* 

"Grasping his hand in both of mine, I replied in a voice husky with 
emotion, 'H., if you had been a Doctor of Divijiity for fifty years, 
you could not have put it better ;' and kneeling down upon the same spot 
where we had prayed before, we blessed the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, had begotten 
him again unto such a lively hope. 

"Upon reciting the conversation to my venerable parent, I said: 
'With your experience and observation, so much larger than my own, 
would you not take this to be an illustration of Christ's word, he "that 
hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me ?" ' 

"'Yes,' was the reply; 'the natural man receiveth not the things of 
the Spirit of God: . . . neither can he know them, because they arc 
spiritually discerned.' 

"I returned to my distant home, rejoicing in the conviction that one 
who had so clearly grasped the central truth of a whole Savior, must be 
born of God. It was, however, a grateful assurance, to learn that after 
three months of suffering, which yet were brighter with evidences of 
grace, my poor friend mounted aloft with rejoicing and song into the 
rest of the redeemed." ^ ^ 

This pastor often had a remarkably masterful way of deal- 
ing with men and women, though owing to his courtesy and 
grace of manner, they seldom found anything to criticise in 
his bearing. One day a young girl of sixteen came into his 
study to talk with him about uniting with the church. Appa- 
rently he thought he understood her case ; and he handed her 
a slip of paper with a hymn on it which she had never before 
seen. The hymn began, 

"Just as I am without one plea," 

Bidding her read and ponder that hymn, he dismissed her. 
It proved to be enough. 

He habitually discovered extraordinary tact in approaching 
men on the subject of religion. He habitually kept his head 
in talking with those in distress, or near to death. The won- 

' This story was written by Dr. Palmer, and published by the Presby- 
terian Committee of Publication, Richmond, Va., in tract form. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. ioi 

derful self-command which he showed in the pulpit he mani- 
fested everywhere. This did not even forsake him by the bed- 
side of his dying mother. 

His mother died in November 1847. He was with her for 
some days before her death. He wrote an obituary of her 
which was published in the Watchman and Observer, soon af- 
ter. That obituary gives numerous though veiled references 
to himself, under the phrases "one of her sons," "an attendant," 
and the like. His mother had been such a force in his life 
for good; the picture given of her character, in this obituary, 
is so much the picture of his own character, as to force, in- 
tensity, consecration to duty, and method in its performance, 
that its reproduction in this memoir is entirely pertinent. The 
view given of himself as her virtual pastoral guide beside her 
dying bed suggests that it may be properly presented in con- 
nection with this account of his pastoral work. It is as follows : 

"The same pious affection which leads us to place the monumental 
marble over the graves of departed friends, prompts often the desire 
of sketching for the admiration of others, those living virtues which 
ever draw forth our own affection. If, too, those who die have 'lived 
by faith in the Son of God, adorned with charity and zeal' and we have 
followed them with cautious and timid feet, as far as is permitted to the 
living, down into 'the valley of the shadow of death;' and have there 
witnessed the triumph sometimes awarded to believers in their conflict 
with the last enemy, 'there is added the spiritual desire of reading aloud 
the lesson of instruction which the grave of a saint affords. It is 
with this mingled desire of profiting the living, while gratifying the 
instinct of mere natural affection, the writer presents the following me- 
morial of Mrs. Sarah Palmer, wife of Rev. Edward Palmer, who de- 
parted this life at Walterboro,* on the nth of November, 1847, having 
nearly completed her 6oth year. 

"At an early age, just as she was blooming into womanhood, she 
became the subject of renewing grace under the pastoral influence of 
the venerable Dr. Ashbel Green, of whom she always spoke with the 
utmost affection as her spiritual father. A few years after, her elder 
sister being wedded to the Rev. B. M. (afterwards Dr.) Palmer, she 
came South and was united in marriage to Mr. Edward Palmer, then 
residing in the city of Charleston, who still survives to mourn her 
loss after a union of thirty-six years. Upon her marriage she entered 
with an ardor characteristic of her family upon all those acts of system- 
atic benevolence which in populous cities bring into exercise the graces 
of a pious female. In her attention to the wants of the poor, the sick 
and the orphan, in city missionary operations, in tract distribution, 
in Sabbath-schools, in every form of pious but unobtrusive labor, she 

I02 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

was unwearied. She became thus endeared to a large circle of pious 
friends from whose affectionate remembrance no length of time ever 
separated her. Years rolled by and she became the mother of five chil- 
dren, four of them living, when she was called to attest her love to the 
Savior and his kingdom by a very unusual exercise of patience and of 
faith. Her husband having become 'a new creature in Christ Jesus' 
felt himself called to serve God and his generation in the work of the 
ministry. For this purpose he abandoned a lucrative business and sep- 
arated himself from the endearments of home for a period of three 
years, while pursuing the study of divinity in the Theological School at 
Andover. To some the sacrifice may appear easy, as it was only of 
personal comfort and domestic enjoyment: but all experience and ob- 
servation show that far greater resolution is required to wear for 
years a fretting yoke, and still 'possess the soul in patience,* than to 
make for once a lofty sacrifice, the pang of which, though severe, is 
short. For three years did this noble woman nerve her soul to endure 
a quasi- widowhood, and with painful labor wrought she with her own 
hands to give her children daily bread. The God of the Covenant, 
who sustained her in all, was pleased yet to bring her faith to severe 
test During this bitter separation, death claimed his tribute of her and 
chose the two loveliest of her babes. Yet this bereaved mother in 
loneliness bore her sorrows, and sent no wish after him whose voice 
could alone cheer, because his heart alone was pierced with like sorrow. 
The vow of consecration was in her heart, and the same love to God and 
the souls of men which placed the gift upon the altar, saved her from 
the sacrilege of recalling it Through this training she passed to be- 
come the pastor's wife, which in due season she was, and the dimin- 
ished family once more met 

"In this new relation we now contemplate her to the end of life, 
during twenty-four years of increasing usefulness, happiness and honor. 
Few persons were better fitted by nature and by grace to fufiU the du- 
ties of this responsible and difficult station: so adapted was she to all, 
it would not be easy to decide in which she most excelled. Her singu- 
larly active mind made her inventive to do good: what plans she 
formed, her natural enthusiasm enabled her to prosecute with ardor; 
and her firm will bore her to the end without failure, almost without 
fatigue. It were hard to say whether she was most fruitful in planning, 
most ardent in commencing, or most patient in completing. Affectionate 
and conversable, she was the confidante of the young; serious and 
thoughtful, she was the companion of the old; gentle and sympathizing, 
she was a comfort to the sorrowing; experienced and winning, she as- 
sured the timid and resolved the scruples of the desponding. Wholly 
unselfish, her natural kindness went out in sympathy with all the feel- 
ings of the happy; while her depth of soul could always measure the 
woes of the wretched. Thus rarely endowed, she became pre-eminently 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 103 

'a mother in Israel/ and the grave must cover many a beating heart be- 
fore she is forgotten upon earth. 

"In her more private and domestic relations she sustained the same 
high position, of a woman equal to all her trusts. Industrious and 
thrifty, she turned to the best account a country pastor's narrow stipend. 
Her practiced and vigilant eye looked through her household, no de- 
partment escaping her constant supervision. Yet while thus driven 
by necessity into the detail and drudgery of life, none knew better how 
to 'redeem the time' for intellectual and spiritual purposes. The habit 
of early rising gave her an. hour before the day began its busy hum, 
and through the long working hours she would snatch brief intervals 
for reading. A book was always on her table, and some subjects always 
on her mind for study and conversation. Thus she became the com- 
panion of the husband, sharing his thoughts and studies: and the 
transient clergyman who passed a night beneath her roof never failed 
to carry away a deep impression of her intelligence and worth. 

"For the office of a mother she displayed a surpassing fitness. Always 
the teacher of her young children, she had the double faculty of let- 
ting herself down into their minds and of feeling a real sympathy 
with their vivid emotions. So entire was the ascendency she thereby 
acquired over them that her sons, in all the rudeness of boyhood, never 
knew the time when they would not gladly exchange the sports and 
playmates of the field for the quiet conversation of their mother at her 
work-table. Mingling gentleness with decision, she was able to add 
guidance to discipline; and seizing those moments when they yielded 
themselves without prejudice or passion to her influence, her speech 
distilled upon them like dew upon the mown grass. She never ser- 
monized, but dropping occasional remarks with little apparent design 
furnished them with maxims suited to all the conditions of Ufe. Let 
not the reader regard these as mere commonplaces, uttered to fill a 
period. Who that looks back upon the guilty and critical passages of 
his life, will not bless God for the gift of a pious mother, feeling that 
it is her hand that has plucked him from mini There are seasons of 
recklessness in youth when we can place our profane feet upon every- 
thing save a mother's love ; and a mother's love has often quenched the 
fire which force and authority would have fanned into a powerful 
flame. This pious mother met with a pious mother's reward. Of her 
eight children, four preceded her to the world of bliss above; four 
wept around her grave, but these four trust in their mother's God, and 
the two sons preach that Jesus in who*n they believe, and whom their 
mother confessed on her dying bed. 

"Following such a Christian through a long life of rare usefulness 
and high communion with God, we naturally look for an end of peace 
if not of joy. And surely no iiour of her life was more brilliant than 
that which closed her record upon earth. By a remarkable dispensation 

I04 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of Divine Providence her brother and sister, the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. 
Palmer, were removed by death within a single week, on the 9th and 
i6th of October. This double shock, together with the fatigue and ex- 
citement attending the funeral of her sister in Charleston, was too much 
for her feeble and somewhat nervous system. On the 2Sth of October, 
the day of her return from her melancholy visit to Charleston, the fatal 
disease developed itself, which in sixteen day removed her from all 
sin and care to the rest above. In the commencement of her sickness 
her hope was somewhat obscured, and she called upon her husband and 
children to pray that Christ would reveal himself to her, and that 
she might enjoy the fullest assurance of her acceptance with God. 
Very soon she said, 'I feel that your prayers have been heard. I am 
delivered from darkness and see and feel Jesus to be my Savior.' 
From that moment she rejoiced in an unclouded assurance of hope to 
the end. As she lay, often apparently asleep and unconscious, her 
frequent exclamations, 'Wonderful love!' 'Precious salvation!' evinced 
that her soul was absorbed in adoring views of God's love and mercy 
in Christ More than once, speaking of Christ as a complete Savior, 
she exclaimed : 'What a wretched religion the Unitarian has — ^he has no 
God for his Savior !' On one occasion a portion of the 89th Psalm was 
read to her ; she responded with animation to the verses which set forth 
the perpetuity of God's covenant with his people; and to the person 
who prayed she remarked, 'I always love to hear you pray, because you 
dwell so much upon God's covenant — that is my hope.' To this she 
several times referred, rejoicing that God's love was spontaneous, and 
his favor not doled out according to the measure of our poor ser- 
vices. When asked if death was at all terrible to her, she replied, 'Not 
at all so now, but it may be otherwise at the last : pray for special grace 
in that trying moment.' 

"On Sabbath, her husband approached her bed and asked if he should 
remain with her during the day: 'No,' she answered, 'go and do 
your Master's work, go and preach.' On the following Sabbath she 
said to one of her sons who had preached, 'I wish I could have heard 
you to-day; you preached upon the believer's future likeness to Christ 
in Heaven.' He replied, 'Mother, you may soon know that mystery 
fully.' *0h, it is a sweet promise,' was her full response. In the 
evening, the family being alone with her, all her children save one — 
like herself on a sick bed, — she asked for a hymn to be sung. The 
words 'Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove,* were chosen; it must have 
been to her like the music of Heaven, for at each line she would ex- 
claim, lifting her hands, 'Oh, how sweet' 

"On Wednesday, the loth of November, deep gloom settled upon 
every countenance, for the appointed hour was nigh. She was told, 
'You are very low, very near to death'; her calm reply betrayed no 
surprise: 'I suppose the doctor has done his best' A few directions 
were then given to her daughters, and she assumed the posture of one 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 105 

waiting to depart. 'I shall soon be at rest, by the side of dear Mary 
Jane ; how sweet it will be !' As the day rolled on she seemed impatient 
to be gone: 'Come, Lord Jesus,' *Why delayeth his chariot?' and 
such like expressions indicated how her spirit panted after rest She 
was asked, 'Why are you anxious to die?* 'It is better to be in 
heaven.' 'Why do you wish to be in heaven?' 'Because it is a place of 
holiness; that is the chief attraction.' When the night closed in she 
said, 'I thought all day the time was about fixed for. me to go.' She 
was asked, what she thought then: her reply was, 'God acts like a 
sovereign in his own way.' She was reminded that there is an ap- 
pointed time for man upon the earth: 'Yes,' was her answer, 'and 
that bound none shall pass.' Being asked if she felt that all was well 
with her she replied, 'Yes, I am very sure.' 

"A few hours after, the last change passed over her previous to 
death ; the glazed eye and heavy respiration betokened its near approach. 
Her husband took her hand and sought a recognition; but in vain — 
various questions were put, which showed that every senee was locked 
up to this world, she knew neither face nor voice of those $he loved 
best on earth. At this moment, an attendant whispered to her those 
words, 'God is our refuge and strength.' She immediately added, to the 
joy and wonder of all, 'and a very present help,' the sentence was fin- 
ished for her, 'in the time of trouble.' Again it was whispered in her 
ear, *I have loved thee with an everlasting love:' she rejoined, 'and with 
loving kindness have I drawn thee.' Desirous of knowing how far she 
was alive to spiritual things while dead to those of earth, it was whis- 
pered to her, 'There is now no condemnation to them which are in 
Christ Jesus:' with slight verbal inaccuracy she finished the passage 
'who walketh not after the flesh but after the spirit' Finally these 
words of Paul were repeated, 'I know in whom I have believed': her 
dying lips concluded the testimony of an assured believer, 'and that he 
is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day.' 
These were her last articulate words. Who can desire a more brilliant 
end, than to make the last use of the organs of speech in uttering such 
words pregnant with a calm assurance? Soon after midnight, she 
slept the sleep which knows no waking. Thus lived and thus died one 
of the Lord's hidden ones. One grave holds her poor body, but many 
hearts her memory ; and desolate as the home is which she has left, her 
partner and her children would rather give themselves to so blessed a 
death, than to mourn for her. She rests, and so shall we, dear reader. 
May our work be done as well." 

Without such a mother Mr. Palmer had not been such a pas- 
tor. Perhaps her early death served to accentuate the influence 
she had so long and so happily exerted over her son. 

June 2, 1844, little Benjamin Blakeley, his first born, had 
been taken away from his earthly home, by the gracious God 

io6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of the covenant. He wanted a month and twenty-four days 
of being two years of age. 

His father had found in him and the vast responsibilities 
that came with him, a "new divinity school with richer teach- 
ings than that which had trained him and sent" him forth to 
his life work. "A grand theology was forming itself out of 
these experiences ; where every thought was turned into prayer, 
and knowledge glided into worship." During twenty months 
he had indulged in the proud joy of fatherhood, and in pious 
musings had outlined his son's career, and placed him as his 
own successor behind the sacred desk. Then through two 
months he had seen him wither away ; for an angel's wing had 
"touched the babe and dropped into its cradle the call to 
higher ministries beyond the skies;" and the father had 
learned other deep lessons in the philosophy which has Jehovah 
for its author. He had learned, too, the comfort wherewith 
to comfort others. How many homes in Columbia, and far off 
New Orleans and elsewhere were to be the better off for that 
little fellow's mission ! 

Into the home thus bereft of the dear little boy, there 
came, while the parents were in Columbia, five little girls, 
each with her own mission and ministry. Amongst them was 
^ one with eyes and coloring much like those of the little brother 
whom she had lost long before her own birth. When she 
grew old enough to talk, "her baby accents lisped continually 
of another world." A score of years later the father recalled 
these strange words of this babe of three winters: 

"When I went to Heaven," she used to say, "I saw a big white 
gate with a man standing just inside. Before it was a pool of water 
with a board across it; and the man said, 'Come in, Sissy, but don't 
fall in.' But I fell in; and he took me out into a room in which there 
were a great many glory-children, and dressed me in white wings like 
theirs. Then he took me to see God. I saw a big red pillow with 
five dots, that God rests on. And, mother, there were two gold rock- 
ing chairs for you and father, and five little ones for us children. And, 
Mauma [her nurse], there was a beautiful white satin dress for you. 
It felt so smooth; just put your hand on your hair, it felt just like that. 
I wanted to bring it to you ; but when I went to take it, it just slipped 
away. And now I spend every Sunday in Heaven with God He puts 
a ladder for me every Saturday evening, and I go up and come home 
on Monday.'** 

* Broken Home, p. 57. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 107 

When Mr. Palmer went to Columbia he found his con- 
gregation worshipping in a bam-like structure of rather mod- 
est dimensions. It soon became insufficient for his congre- 
gation. Toward the end of his pastorate there, he led his 
people to erect a new church edifice. In the year 1853, after 
the usual trials and tribulations of builders, the present edifice 
was ready for use. It was formally dedicated to the service 
of God, on Sabbath morning, October 9, 1853, by the pastor ; 
whosie theme of discourse on the occasion was, the "Warrant 
and Nature of Public Service." 

The discourse is presented entire, as illustrating his ideals 

of his own duty as the minister of worship in that church; 

and as a fine type of the sermon he was aiming to give his 

people : 

John 4:23, 24. 

"The Hour Cometh, and Now is. When the True Worshippers 
Shall Worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth: for the 
Father Seeketh Such to Worship Him. God is a Spirit: and 
They That Worship Him Must Worship Him in Spirit and in 

It is an advantage sometimes accruing from unusual solemnitieSi 
that attention is directed to those ordinary rites, which pass current 
under the sanction of usage and prescription, rather than from an in- 
telligent conviction of their nature and design. Thus, at the threshold 
of our services to-day, questions break upon us, from the depths of 
the eternal world, like the surf of the seashore, which gives presage 
of the boundless and surging ocean. We meet professedly, with pub- 
lic forms, to devote to the service of God this elegant structure, a 
monument both of the liberality and taste of the congregation by whom 
it has been reared. But what is meant precisely by this act of dedica- 
tion? Do we hope, by the incantations of a spiritual magic, to trans- 
form this building of stone and mortar into a true and real temple? 
Can any amount of priestly benedictions put holiness into these beams 
and timbers? Surely not Let the wizards peep and mutter as they 
may, the brick and the marble confess themselves incapable of that holi- 
ness which is an attribute of sentient and rational beings only. If, 
under the Jewish Dispensation, the consecration of particular local- 
ities was enjoined, this was due to the typical character of that mys- 
terious economy. Jerusalem and Zion were only because Jehovah 
chose there for a season to reveal his presence. It was the Shekinah 
between the Cherubim which made the tabernacle holy. But the taber- 
nacle, with its chambers and its courts, its altars and its ark, its 
vessels and its veil, was but a type of Christ's humanity, and of the 
great priestly work to which this was needful. Only until "the fulness 

io8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of time should come," did it please God to dwell in temples made with 
hands. Now he dwelleth in the Incarnate Word, which is "the true 
tabernacle that the Lord pitched, and not man," — "the greater and more 
perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, — not of this building." It 
is, my brethren, a melancholy proof how little we are imbued with the 
spirit of the Gospel, that good Christians should still "speak half in the 
speech of Ashdod." A vain superstition still babbles, in the dialect of 
obsolete Judaism, about temples, and altars, and priests, as though these 
were anything more than "figures of the truth, for the time then 
present." As the only Priest known to the Gospel is that High Priest, 
who by "his own blood entered into the Holy Place, having obtained 
eternal redemption for us," — so the only temple now on earth is that 
which is "builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit," 
the stones of which are living stones, taken, indeed, from the quarry of 
corrupt human nature, but polished after the similitude of a palace, in 
which God dwells by his Spirit. This dedication, then, imparts no 
sanctity to this material edifice. In the language of another, "No 
pompous ceremonies, no solemn forms, no magnificent appearances, no 
gaudy or golden solemnities, can sanctify any place unto God and his 
worship, or make it more holy than it was before. And though when a 
commodious building is erected for the worship of God, it is a very 
decent thing to begin the worship at that place with solemn prayer or 
addresses to Go4; yet, all this human prudence, this natural decency, 
and all these prayers, do not amount to the sanctifying the spot of 
ground or the building, so as to make it holier than the rest, or put 
any such holiness upon it as belonged to the Jewish people."" Then, 
"what mean we by this service?" Why this lifting up of our hands, 
this invocation of the adorable and incomprehensible Trinity, these 
chants and Psalms of praise? We do but set apart, in solemn phrase, 
this House to the public worship of Almighty God. A sense of pro- 
priety would dictate, on opening a house of worship, that God's bless- 
ing should be implored upon all the ordinances to be dispensed therein ; 
and the character of those associations should be declared, which are 
henceforth to invest the worshipper. 

But the antecedent inquiry arises, why should men meet in public 
assembly to render united homage to the God of Heaven? If, as is 
often alleged, and in a high sense is most emphatically true, if religion 
be only the name of man's individual relations to God, lying only 
between the conscience of the creature and the authority of the Cre- 
ator, what distinctly is the warrant for these public convocations? 
Why is it not enough, in the elegant language of Jeremy Taylor, that 
"every man shall build a chapel in his own breast, and himself be the 
priest, and his heart the sacrifice, and every foot of glebe he treads 
on be the altar?" It does not satisfy this inquiry that so it has been 

•Dr. Watts' "Discourse on the Holiness of Places."- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 109 

through all periods of time, and uhder every dispensation the voice of 
assembled worshippers has gone up to Heaven, as "the sound of many 
waters." The universality of this public worship is, indeed, fully at- 
tested by the seal of history. If, from the present moment, we ascend, 
through intervening generations, to apostolic and primitive Christian- 
ity, our march will be through assemblies more or less august, till we 
sit down with the church that was in the house of Philemon or Aquilla. 
If we cross the line which separates the Christian from the Jewish 
economy, our feet stand upon the threshold of the synagogue, in which, 
from the captivity, if not from a remoter age, all the parts of natural 
worship — ^prayer, and praise and reading of the Law, were continually 
performed. With the myriads of Israel again we go up to the holy hill 
of 2ion, where, in the temple of Solomon, or the tabernacle, its pattern, 
we wait upon those ceremonial and positive institutions which God ex- 
pressly ordained. Three times a year a nation trod with solemn feet 
the courts of Jerusalem, and a nation's anthem went up in praise, 
while a nation's repentance smoked in the blood of unnumbered vic- 
tims. If again we penetrate the haze which hangs around the Patri- 
archal Dispensation, when the earth was young, when the ruler was a 
priest, and the priest a father, we find dim traces of chosen spots hon- 
ored with the symbols of God's presence, and where lingers faintly the 
echo of a united worship.*^^ So that across the track of sixty centuries, 
from the moment when we gathered in this assembly to the day when 
Paul stood on Mars' Hill, and from Peter in the streets of Jerusalem to 
Noah, a preacher of righteousness to sinners before the flood, the Lord's 
"faithfulness has always been declared in the congregation of His 
Saints." But this universality of public worship binds us with the 
authority of prescription only, not of law. It proves that some prin- 
ciple exists in man, prompting to these joint acts of worship, but does 
not declare what that principle is. Nor if it did, would the mere suita- 
bleness of this worship, recommending it to such universal consent, 
be deemed a sufficient basis upon which to rest the duty. 

Nor does it satisfy this inquiry to point out the public benefits flow- 
ing from the practice. These blessings cannot be exaggerated, though 
depicted in the deepest colors the most lively fancy shall invent 
"Religion," it has been well said, "is the ligature of souls, and the 
great instrument of the conservation of bodies politic, and is united in 
a common object, the God of all the world, and is managed by public 
ministries, by sacrifice, adoration and prayer, in which, with variety of 
circumstances indeed, but with infinite consent and union of design, 
all the sons of Adam are taught to worship God,"" Science teaches 
that the harmony of the material universe depends upon one pervading 
natural law. The power of mutual attraction, which holds together 

" See Blunt's Coincidences in the Writings of the O. T., Part I. 
"Jeremy Taylor's Life of Jesus., Part I., sec. 7. 

no Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

two atoms in a lump, holds earth, and all the planets, which in the 
void immense wheel their course. Whole constellations, too, — ^"cycle 
and epicycle, orb in orb," as "with unoffensive pace each spinning 
sleeps on its soft axle," — revolve with complex motion round a com- 
mon center, the "primum mobile" perhaps the august throne on which 
the Godhead sits. The analogy is perfect What attraction is to mat- 
ter, binding the atom to the mass, the planet to the sun, and the con- 
stellation to the throne of God, that religion is to soul. Man's respon- 
sibility to God gives capacity for obedience to human law. He 
moves in the narrower sphere of earthly duty, because fastened by a 
higher tie in a wider and holier relation. While the conscience responds 
to the challenges of Divine Law, the yoke of authority will be borne 
under the human. Thus religion is truly the girdle which binds to- 
gether the complicated interests of society. Public worship nourishes 
this sentiment precisely in the form which is best suited to imme- 
diate application. It is of immense service, at stated seasons, to bring 
men together in the mass, where they may feel a brotherhood of 
nature and of race, — ^where all the artificial distinctions of wealth, posi- 
tion, education and rank, shall for the moment be obliterated, — where 
each shall feel that "there is one body and one spirit, even as there is 
one hope of their calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God 
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all." In- 
dividual differences are merged, and individual asperities softened, 
when all look back upon a common ruin, look up to a common Savior, 
look iorward to a common goal, rejoice in the promises of a com- 
mon covenant, weep tears of a common repentance, and experience the 
joys of a common pardon. Blot religion from the soul of man, and you 
have destroyed the cohesion of society; bury the sanctuary in ruin, 
and you have dashed to pieces the great magnet of earth, which draws 
all hearts into sympathy and union. 

Still less can we overstate the influence of the sanctuary as the 
educator of mankind. It is God's voice which thunders here, and the 
human soul must give back the echo. He speaks of law, and, like the 
needle to the pole, conscience points to duty. He speaks of wrath, 
each fluttering pulse betrays the fears. He speaks of love, the softened 
heart gives its wedded vows to him who won it. Under a judicious 
ministry, who can estimate the slumbering energies aroused, and the 
mental training which reaches thousands whom scholastic discipline 
never touched? I speak not, of course, of that fanatical rant, whose 
ambitious sport it is to lash the soul into a tempest of emotion, leaving 
only the foam to mark its passage. I speak of that discreet, well pro- 
portioned, yet earnest ministry, which feeds the Church of God with 
wholesome truth, — giving milk to babes, and strong meat to men, — 
which, not pampering to a taste craving always to be delirious with 
excitement, chooses to pour a flood of knowledge upon the human mind. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C hi 

and suffers this light of Heaven to draw its own music from the soul 
on which it beams." 

Yet all these advantages, of which only a suggestive hint has been 
given, do not form the ground of public worship. They fully justify 
the wisdom which ordained it, and add motives for its due and rever- 
ent observance, but they do not furnish the warrant upon which its 
claims may legally be sustained. 

We reach a much higher position when the authority and will of Crod 
are distinctly pleaded in its favor. In whatever form this will may be 
revealed, it silences dispute and rebukes distrust Whether it be con- 
veyed through the appointment of a weekly Sabbath, upon the lintel 
of which is inscribed the sentence "the seventh day is the Sabbath of 
rest, an holy convocation,"— or, in the assurance of extraordinary bless- 
ings to such as frequent His courts, as thus, ''in all places where I 
record my name, I will come unto thee and bless thee,*'— or, in the more 
explicit command, "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, 
as the manner of some is;" the will of God, clearly known, resolves 
every scruple and binds the conscience. But the Divine authority, 
though recognized as ample warrant for the duty, does not forestall 
investigation, whether in man's essential nature, or in his religious 
relations, any reasonable ground exists for this practice of public wor- 
ship. It infers no want of submission to God's absolute authority to 
trace the obvious reasons of his holy commands, and thus to inflame 
our admiration 6f his wisdom and goodness, by discovering the suita- 
bleness of his laws, both to our nature and condition. 

There are three great principles, from which the institution of 
stated public worship would seem to flow by necessary deduction. The 
first is: 

I. That man, endowed with a social nature, cannot attain the per- 
fection which is possible to him, in the privacy and insulation of his own 
being. As in worship we have immediate commerce with the Infinite 
One, it might seem to be a matter of individual concernment merely. 
But, however true it may be that religion lies only between the man 
and his Maker, in the sense that God only is Lord and Judge of the 
conscience, it is not true that religion contemplates man as an insulated 
being. On the contrary, it penetrates every faculty of his complex 
nature, and pervades every relation in which he stands. As the moon's 
motion round the earth does not impede the common and wider 
motion of both around the sun, so neither does the connection between 
God and the conscience become less intimate, when the worshipper 
lifts his voice in the great congregation, than when he breathes his 
prayer in the whispers of the closet This "bill of divorcement" 
which men draw up between the first and second tables of the Decalogue, 

"The celebrated statue of Memnon, in ancient story, was said to 
utter melodious sounds, when first illuminated by the rising sun. 

112 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

between their primary and secondary duties, as though the former only 
fell within the pale of their religion, is the charter of that "filthy 
Antinomianism'' which, in every age, has left its obscene touch upon 
the Church of God. True religion does not more possess man's nature 
than it covers man's relations. It is as truly a part of religion to love 
our neighbor as ourselves, as it is to love the Lord our God with all our 
heart, — as much a part of religion to "do justly, and to love mercy," 
as "to walk humbly with our God." The earth's orbit may be around 
the sun, but the earth's orbit is also among the stars. Man's duty is 
to know and to obey God, but not the less to serve Him among men. 
True piety is thus an invisible essence, which penetrates the whole char- 
acter, and relishes the entire life. With supreme love to the Master 
in our souls, all the hard labor with which we earn our bread in the 
working forge of life, all the unseen acts of wayside charity, — ^the 
morsel of bread to the hungry, the cup of cold water to the thirsty, 
the tear of Christian sympathy for the mourner, — all these, like the 
prayers and the alms of Cornelius, come up for a memorial before God ; 
or like the sweet savour which the Lord smelled in the burnt offerings 
of Noah. If, then, religion though an individual matter strictly, does 
not exclude, but rather, in its comprehensive definition, embraces all 
the social relations of man, surely his worship, which is but the ut- 
terance of religion, may be rendered conjointly with others, while yet 
it ascends from individual souls, sweetly attracted by their Maker's 
love, as the single flame leaping upwards, and "trembling most when it 
reaches highest," is yet composed of a thousand blended rays of heat; 
or as the sun's radiance, which bathes this world in glory, comprises 
myriads of single beams, each distinct to the eye of God, though 
blending into common light. 

But these remarks do not touch the core of the principle stated above, 
which was, that man having social endowments and affinities cannot 
perfect his own nature, in a state of complete seclusion. It is from 
this postulate that the whole theory of education proceeds, without 
which it would have neither purpose nor method. It would have no 
purpose, because if man is to live in the seclusion ot his own soul, 
locked up to a transcendental intercourse with his Maker, why not 
leave him to the impulses received immediately from God, which alone 
can fit him for that secret communion? It would have no method, 
for no form of education is conceivable which does not draw a man out 
from the solitude of individual being into correspondence with objects 
external to himself. Education takes us out of these inner chambers, 
and ranges with us through the whole domain of nature. We walk 
among the stars, and call it astronomy; we scrutinize the elements, 
and call it science ; we analyze all the processes 5f thought and emotion, 
and call it philosophy; we study the social fabric, with its scale of 
graduated duties, and (^11 it morality; we combine together the doc- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 113 

trines of Holy Scriptures, and call it theology; we feel their influence 
upon our own heart and conscience, and call it religion. The whole is 
education, which leads forth the anchorite from his cell, guides him in 
these wide excursions through all the provinces of nature and reason, 
and endows him with a wealth of knowledge, to gather which the whole 
universe of matter and of mind has been laid under tribute. 

So, too, man's social nature lies at the foundation of all development 
of his faculties. We come into being with a thousand capacities, physi- 
cal, intellectual and moral, every one of which is dormant, and requires 
to be developed. The great law seems to pervade the world of ra- 
tional existence, that moral beings shall live together in society, and 
their natures be perfected under mutual action and reaction. In all 
the universe no intelligent being is doomed to a solitary existence, but 
wherever there is a soul it cries out for fellowship. Angels have so- 
ciety in joy, and devils companionship in woe. The multitude of harp- 
ers, whom John saw upon the sea of glass, formed the General As- 
sembly and Church of the First-bom in Heaven. The consecrated mil- 
lions around the Lamb, represented by the four beasts and the four 
and twenty Elders, in company with angels, swell the chorus of 
blessing and honor to Him upon the throne. Let it be uttered in the 
muffled tones of reverential awe, even the mystery of the Godhead 
teaches the same: since Jehovah, whose greatness is unsearchable, is 
himself infinitely perfect and ineffably blessed, in the social existence 
of the Trinity. This analogy, therefore, to which we have discovered 
no exception, in worlds above or worlds below, would seem to teach 
that man on earth would not be left to solitary communion with his 
Maker; but that, in religion, as in all el^ beside, the social element 
would have scope in the united worship of the sanctuary. When the 
sinner is again "renewed after the image of Him who created him," 
he is not left a lonely orphan, to shape his own character by the power 
of his own desolate musings; but he is brought into association with 
others of like precious faith, that by the law of assimilation, and the 
power of mutual support he may "grow up to the measure of the 
stature of the fulness of Christ." As a part of this heavenly education, 
he mingles in those public ofHces of religion, which profit him, not only 
by the greater promises of grace annexed to them ; but profit him also by 
"the piety of example, by the communication of counsels, by the awful- 
ness of public observation, and the engagements of holy custom."" 
Thus "the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which 
every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure 
of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in 

II. But a second ground, upon which we may rest the institution of 
public worship, is, that it is necessary to the Church, as the visible 

" Jeremy Taylor's Life of Jesus, Part I., sec 7. 

114 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

kingdom of Christ It would be superfluous here, to argue the exis- 
tence of a church visible, as distinguished from that which is invisible. 
The latter is the Church of the Elect, embracing only the mystical 
body of Christ, who have "followed him in the regeneration." It is, 
of course, known infallibly to God only, who are the subjects of this 
kingdom ; and it would require a special revelation, in reference to each, 
to bring it under human control and government. Besides this kingdom, 
and to a great extent including it, is another kingdom which is visible, 
and, as visible, is administered by men. This kingdom is the Church 
of God on earth. To employ the full definition of Dr. Mason,^* it is 
"the aggregate body of those who profess the true religion, all making 
up but one society, of which the Bible is the statute-book, Jesus Christ 
the head, and a covenant relation the uniting bond." Now, what is 
necessary to give visibility to this kingdom of Jesus Christ? Obviously, 
there n\ust be a covenant, or charter, securing the privileges of its sub> 
jects, and setting forth the tenure upon which these are held. There 
must be outward seals, giving legal value to the instrument, the use of 
which shall involve a solemn assumption of all the duties which are 
imposed. There must be laws, regulating the conduct of such as de- 
sire to be true and loyal subjects, and repressing the rebellion and 
wickedness of such as are traitorous and false. There must be 
officers, invested with ministerial power, acting always under the com- 
mission of their lawful king. There must be a court from which the 
symbols of ro3ral power and supremacy may be displayed; and days of 
interview, when the subject comes into the presence of his monarch ta 
offer up his homage, and to receive the favors which royal clemency or 
justice may dispense. From her first organization upon earth all these 
visible marks have been deciphered on the Church of God. Sacrifices 
were instituted, as the mode by which the worshippers might make an 
acceptable approach to their king, typical of the great expiation which 
should be made by the one perfect offering in the end of the world. 
Priests were ordained to go between the living and the dead, typical 
of "the only mediator between God and man — ^the man, Christ Jesus." 
The temple was erected as the dwelling place of the Divine Majesty, 
from which all his oracles should issue. Extraordinary prophets were 
commissioned to make new disclosures of the Monarch's will. Days of 
convocation were set, when he would display his glory to his subjects, 
and sacraments were given to seal the bond between himself and them. 
Great changes have indeed supervened upon that economy since the 
advent of Christ, but not such as affect the identity of the Church, as 
a visible Catholic society from the. beginning. The sacrifices are with- 
drawn, but not the great propitiatory oblation in which they were ful- 
filled. The succession of earthly priests has ceased, only because the 
great High Priest ever liveth to intercede above. The temple hath not 


Mason's Essays on the Church, No. I. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 115 

one stone left upon another, but the true Shekinah dwelleth in Christ, 
the Word made flesh 4nd dwelling amongst us. The long line of 
prophets terminates only in that Prophet whom the Lord God was to 
raise up like to Moses, and their treasured messages are expounded 
from the Bible by living ministers ; while the seals of the covenant have 
only changed their outward forms. Is it not necessary that there shall 
be solemn assemblies, in which the laws of this kingdom shall be pro- 
claimed, — when this visible church, with its visible ministry, its visible 
sacraments, shall also, through a visible worship and visible discipline, 
commend itself to the love and veneration if its members? The 
Church, as the visible kingdom of Jesus, has the Sabbath for its court- 
day, the sanctuary for the King's pavilion, and its instituted worship 
for the subject's fealty. 

But these considerations lead to the third ground, upon which this 
great institute may be based: 

III. Since, by means of the worship and ordinances of the sanctuary, 
this kingdom of Christ makes its aggressions upon the surrounding and 
opposing powers of darkness. In strict analogy with all other empires, 
this kingdom rose from small beginnings. It was first set up, with a 
written constitution, in the family of Abraham; it received a visible 
expansion in that of Jacob, whose twelve sons were the twelve foun- 
dation-stones of the Jewish church. This kingdom, cradled for a 
season in the fruitful land of Egypt, soon outgrows the limits of the 
family and tribe, and comes forth a nation. In Canaan, hedged around 
with peculiar and restrictive ceremonial institutes, it lives without 
further development till he came, who was the end of all the types. 
For a season we see it reduced within narrower limits, and must 
search for it in the house, as in the days of Abraham and Isaac; but 
it is only to burst forth with a new enlargement, and assume its proper 
attribute of universality. Now is fulfilled the vision of Daniel, "the 
little stone cut out without hands shall smite the feet of the great 
image, and then it becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth." 
From the moment the Church entered into the Christian Dispensation, 
throwing off the restrictions by which it was swathed in the Jewish, 
it is confessed to be an aggressive kingdom. To its sovereign there is 
"given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all people, nations and 
languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, 
which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be 
destroyed." The genius of the two Dispensations, the Jewish and the 
Christian, is strongly expressed in the opposite directions given to both : 
under the former the language is, go up to Jerusalem; under the latter 
the language is, go into all the world. In the one, the Church is sta- 
tionary; moored to the Hill of Zion by peculiar and local rights placed 
in the center of earth, as at that time known, she throws her light over 
surrounding nations, and attracts them to her. In the other, all her 

ii6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

fastenings cut asunder, she is sent forth upon a great itineracy; no 
longer stationary, but aggressive, she goes to the nations, who before 
were commanded to come to her." In the great commission of her 
Lord, go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, 
we trace the genius of the New Testament Church. It is no exag- 
geration of pious zeal, when it is reiterated that the Qiurch of Jesus 
Christ is essentially a Missionary Church, and her aggressiveness set 
forth as a capital and distinctive feature. 

But not only is this kingdom thus aggressive; its encroachments are 
made through a peculiar warfare. Its only weapons are persuasion 
and argument. The arrows that are "sharp in the hearts of the King's 
enemies" are drawn only from the quiver of eternal truth. The only 
sword drawn from its sheath is the sword of the spirit, which cutteth 
to the heart. The only captivity it inflicts is that which "brings every 
thought into the obedience of Christ." The commission under which 
its armies go forth to conquest, enjoins that they shall gain their 
victories simply by teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name 
of Father, Son and Holy Spirit And thus the appropriate symbol 
of this kingdom is that of the angel flying in the midst of Heaven, 
having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell upon 
the earth. Now, because this kingdom claims to be thus universal 
and makes its aggressions not by the arm of violence, but by the 
gracious words of its Lord and Head, therefore these public con- 
vocations are required. Wherever its subjects may be scattered, 
their oath of all allegiance binds them to spread a tent, and in- 
vite the nations to a parley. "The great trumpet must be blown, to 
assemble the outcasts in Egypt, that they may worship the Lord in 
the Holy Mount." They must take up the song of the angels to the 
shepherds, and proclaim "the tidings of great joy to all people, that 
unto them a Savior is born, who is Christ, the Lord." Whatever 
necessity may have existed in former ages, for the public assembly, it 
must be a prime feature of the Church in the present economy. Without 
public proclamation, the Gospel must be stifled in its utterance, and 
cannot prove itself the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto 
the salvation of man. 

Thus far, my brethren, we have discussed the warrant for public 
worship, which we find to be the will of God expressly revealed to us, 
having yet a natural foundation in the social constitution of man, per- 
taining to the Church as the visible kingdom of Christ, and necessary 
to the aggressions which she is pledged to make against the world of 
darkness. It will be necessary now to consider the nature of this wor- 
ship, as deducible from the text The woman of Samaria proposes to 


See this contrast beautifully presented in a Missionary Sermon, 
one of the earlier performances of Dr. Harris, which made him known 
to the church at large. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 117 

Christ to settle the dispute so jealously maintained between her people 
and the Jews, whether the worship of God had been appointed on the 
Hill of Zion, or on Mt. Gerizim, from which of old his blessings had 
been so solemnly pronounced. To this inquiry Christ replied by 
showing its utter impertinence. The time had now come when the 
predicted challenge of Isaiah was to be both explained and fulfilled: 
"Thus saith the Lord, the Heaven is my throne and the earth is my foot- 
stool; where is the House that ye build unto me, and where is the 
place of my rest ? for all these things hath my hand made, and all these 
things have been, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to 
him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word." 
The Dispensation of t3rpes is brought to a close. Henceforth, "he that 
killeth an ox is as if he slew a man ; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he 
cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's 
bk)od ; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol." Among these 
vanishing shadows is the gorgeous temple on Mount Moriah. Shall he 
who "inhabits the praises of eternity," who "fills immensity with his 
presence," be confined within a material edifice? Behold, the fram^ 
of nature is his, and the broad earth his footstool. God is a spirit, 
infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, without body or parts; it is ap- 
propriate therefore, that he be universally worshipped, and with a spirit- 
ual homage. The Jewish law was but a "shadow of things to come but 
the body is of Christ." Since then, Christ, this body, is come, God 
is to be worshipped, not through the shadow, but in the substance which 
is Christ. The worship, therefore, which God now accepts, both secret 
and social, is a worship not restricted to places or to season; it is a 
worship not ceremonial and typical, but spiritual and internal, the sub- 
stance and body of which is the truth itself,-^the truth known and felt 
in its power, — ^the truth as it is in Jesus. 

There is obviously the distinction between what is natural and what is 
ceremonial in public worship: The former having a ground in nature, 
so that reason itself would enforce it upon the conscience, — ^the latter 
deriving its entire claim from the express appointment of God. In the 
first class will fall such acts as prayer, and praise, and the study of the 
Word, which, having their ground in reason itself, never can become 
obsolete with changing dispensations. In the second class will range 
such symbolical rites as Circumcision or Baptism, the Passover or the 
Eucharist. For though these symbols may illustrate vital and holy 
truths, yet the will of God alone can make one symbol more obligatory 
than another, or indeed bind us to a symbolical worship at all. The 
Jewish Dispensation was marked by the predominance of the ceremonial 
over the natural parts in public worship. The courses of the priests, 
the splendor of their vestments, the variety and number of the sacrifices, 
the magnificence of the temple, the oblations and incense, — all gave 
denomination to Judaism, as a system of types and emblems. But 

ii8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

under the Christian economy, the natural parts of worship, those hav- 
ing an evident foundation in reason and propriety, and not possessing 
authority from positive institution alone, — these are brought into bolder 
relief from the suppression or withdrawal of the symbolical. 

This seems to be intimated in the contrast drawn by our Savior, 
between the typical and the spiritual, in the text: "The hour cometh, 
when neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, shall ye worship 
the Father; but the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit 
and in truth." Here to worship in the spirit is antithetical to worship 
ping in Jerusalem, which cannot be explained, unless these terms are 
the synonyms of a symbolical and a spiritual worship. 

This language suggests, too, a certain connection between the 
devotions and the instructions of the sanctuary. For though the term 
truth in the phrase, "in spirit and in truth," does not primarily refer to 
any dogmatic statements, yet referring to Christ as the substance of the 
shadowy economy of the temple, it doubtless implies full instruction 
in all that relates to His person and work. Permit me to dwell with 
^a little minuteness upon what may be termed the Protestant view of 
public worship, touching the stress which is to be laid upon the office 
of instruction in the sanctuary. There are three lines of thought which 
conduct to the inference that formal exposition of truth is a necessary 
service in the Christian Church. It follows : 

I. From the complete withdrawal of the ancient types. It is, I con- 
ceive, a low and narrow view to take of these, that they were designed 
as artistic representations, to captivate the senses and delight the 
imagination. If no inspired interpretation of them had been afforded, 
drawing out stores of spiritual meaning, it would be more pardonable 
to speak of them as giving a scenic effect, as it were, dramatizing the 
worship of God, enlisting the sentiment, and drawing forth the poetry 
that lurks far down in the nature of every man. The Epistle to the 
Hebrews is sufficient to overthrow this frigid hypothesis. The Apostle 
undertakes to unfold the priesthood of Christ, and he does this by sim- 
ply expounding the import of the tabernacle and its furniture, the 
priesthood in its courses, the sacrifices and purgations of the old law. 
We are therefore to regard these types as being really an exhibition 
of spiritual truths to the Jewish mind, — ^a sacred hieroglyph, curious 
enough to provoke inquiry, yet plain enough to be resolved upon in- 
vestigation. They were indeed a language, peculiar in construction yet 
pregnant with meaning, if the key were only given to unlock the 
cypher. It does not concern me now to vent an opinion how far this 
language was actually interpreted, — whether the pious Jew was per- 
mitted to read the high import of these mysterious symbols, or whether, 
like prophecy, which is a cypher of another kind, the key is reserved 
till the day of fulfilment. Should I hazard a conjecture upon this 
collateral point, it would be that types and prophecies both were, in 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 119 

their broad outline, sufficiently understood, at least by the spiritually 
enlightened, — ^while yet the details of both were shut up in mystery, 
and all questions as to the mode and time of fulfilment lost them- 
selves in the uncertainties of conjecture. If, then, these types were a 
species of language, speaking to the eye, and reaching the reason 
through the imagination, — ^if the temple, with its august ceremonies, 
was but a ssrmbolical painting, somewhat like the sculptured panels and 
painted walls recently disinterred from the ruins of Nineveh, — then they 
cannot be withdrawn from a dispensation claiming to be more per- 
fect, without the substitution of a better form of instruction. What 
this form shall be, is most easily and reasonably determined. In 
Judaism, Christ was to come; his advent was future: In Christianity, 
Christ has come; the event is past In the one case, the representation 
of what is future cannot but be S3rmbolic; in the other, the representa- 
tion of what is past cannot but be historic In the New Testament 
Church, therefore, the instruction must consist of plain statements of 
actual facts — ^the facts of Christ's life, and the facts of his death — and 
of didactic expositions of duty founded upon these facts. The change 
which has taken place is just what we would antecedently expect from 
the chronology of the two economies. When Christ's advent was future, 
it was foreshadowed by types and emblems. When Christ did come these 
types were cancelled, and he is now held forth in the sanctuary as a 
fact, a substance and a body; and the instructions which are given are 
instructions concerning a fact; they are plain, literal, historic and 

II. The same conclusion as to the necessity of formal instruction 
in the sanctuary follows, from the connection of preaching, with the 
Undl spread of Christianity, "There were great voices in heaven, say- 
ing : the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, 
and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." This is the 
paean with which prophecy celebrates the close of this latter age of the 
Church. But how is this unearthly kingdom to penetrate all earthly 
kingdoms, and include them? Go preach my Gospel, saith the Lord, 
for it is by the foolishness of preaching he will save them that 
believe, and "the foolishness of God is wiser than men." But who 
shall preach? Even they that are sent. And where shall they preach? 
What ye have heard in the ear, says Christ, proclaim ye upon the 
housetops. If what has before been said, respecting the aggressiveness 
of Christianity be true, and, if this universal extension is to be achieved 
by the simple proclamation of Gospel truths, then the importance 
of the pulpit cannot be overlooked; and among the appointments of 
the sanctuary the expositions of Bible truth must be prominent. 

III. But the necessity of instruction in the House of God will ap- 
pear further from the relation of knowledge to worship. I am free to 
iadmit that the main design of these public assemblies is devotion; yet 

I20 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

it cannot be a blind and senseless devotion of the body, without the 
soul. "God is a spirit/' — and how can he be pleased with what is 
corporeal ? If, for the purpose of instructing men in the higher myster- 
ies of redemption, atonement and pardon, he for a season enjoined 
bloody sacrifices, it was not because he delighted either in the fat of 
rams or in the blood of bulls. When he made man in his own image he 
gave him a thinking soul, and endowed that soul with knowledge and 
holiness, and the sacrifices acceptable to him are those of a broken 
and contrite spirit. *'To love him with all the heart, and with all the 
understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to 
love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings 
and sacrifices." But how can this devotion be spiritual without the 
truth? To worship God as a spirit, and with the spirit, there must be 
knowledge of God, who He is — "infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in 
His being, wisdom, power, justice, goodness, holiness and truth" — there 
must be knowledge of God in His relations to us, as our Creator, Ruler 
and Redeemer — there must be knowledge of His law, setting forth His 
claims upon our love and service — and there must be knowledge of 
the way of approach and communion with Him, as it is graphically 
summed up by Dr. Owen." "This is the general order of Gospel wor- 
ship, the great rubnic of our service. Here, in general, lieth its de- 
cency, that it respects the mediation of the Son, through whom we 
have access, and the supplies and assistance of the Spirit, and a regard 
unto God as a Father. He that fails in any one of these breaks all 
order in Gospel worship. This is the great canon, which, if it be 
neglected, there is no decency in whatever else is done in this way." 
How, then, can there be true worship without instruction? For these 
things are known only as God has revealed them and He has written 
them in a book. Instruction, therefore, is needed in the sanctuary, to 
afford the materials for devotion; for the knowledge of God and His 
love supplies the theme of our song. 

It strikingly illustrates, too, the wisdom of the Divine arrangements, 
that in the sanctuary instruction and devotion are so inseparably coupled 
and the former always in subordination to the latter. If Christianity 
were taught only in the portico and lyceum, it is hard to see how it 
should be kept from sliding into a sublime philosophy. But taught in 
the sanctuary after offices of prayer and praise, and taught as a means 
to these, it is retained in the heart as religion. The devotions of the 
sanctuary exercise a secret, but not the less powerful, check uiH>n 
that spirit of unlicensed speculation, which, in reference to the deity, 
is always profane ; while again, these instructions react powerfully upon 
the devotion of the worshipper, to enliven and support it. They supply 
oxygen to the flame, so that the vestal fire bums without extinction 
upon the altar within. 


Sermon on Nature and Beauty of Gospel Worship. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 121 

It is somewhat a nice point to adjust the instructions and the 
devotions of the sanctuary so that they shall be mingled in due propor- 
tion. Ritualism, on the one hand/ so multiplies the offices of prayer 
and thanksgiving as to thrust aside the exposition of doctrine. Ration- 
alism, on the other hand, spins out discourse till the spirit of devotion 
is smothered under the weight of human speculations. Romanists, for 
example, as types of the first, substituting the Church for Christ, and 
cutting off all access to God save through the priesthood, have no oc- 
casion to bring divine truth upon the conscience and heart, and the 
sermon is ignored. Protestants, on the contrary, who maintain the in- 
dividual responsibility of men to God, and cannot propose to be proxies 
for others in this concern, rest upon the truth, as the great medium of 
spiritual communion with God. In proportion, therefore, as the Prot- 
estant spirit prevails, is attention given to the preaching of the Word. 
The exact measures of the two may not be determined alike by all. 
But the very genius of Christianity requires that copious instruction 
shall be given — ^that this instruction shall hinge upon the vital truths 
concerning the grace of the Gospel — ^that it shall be conveyed, not in 
a dry and scholastic form, but in that practical and experimental form 
which shall glide most easily into the frames of devotion. 

I cannot forbear, even at the hazard of wearying you, from touching 
upon another feature of Christian worship, clearly implied in the con- 
trasted expressions of the text, viz: its pre-eminent simplicity. When 
Christ says, "the true worshippers shall worship the Father, not in 
Jerusalem, but in spirit," the antithesis lies not in the language, but in 
the sentiment He does not mean to say that spiritual worship could 
not be rendered at Jerusalem as elsewhere. Jerusalem is here only 
another name for Judaism,^^ the ''Jerusalem which is in bondage with 
her children;" and to worship in Jerusalem is only the formula for a 
ceremonial and symbolical service. Here, then, are two facts: First, 
that the only instance in which God has enjoined a splendid and im- 
posing ritual upon the Church was under a dispensation clearly 
t3rpical, when the truth was taught by emblems; and Second, that this 
picturesque and ceremonial service has been unquestionably withdrawn, 
being supplanted by another that is spritual and simple. As regards 
the splendor of that ancient service, the following language was uttered 
by one of the great divines of the seventeenth century : " "Mosaical wor- 
ship, as celebrated in Solomon's temple, outdid all the glory and splen- 
dor that ever the world, in any place, in any age, from the foundation 
of it, ever enjoyed. How glorious was it, when the house of Solomon 
stood in its greatest order and beauty, all overlaid with gold, thousands 
of priests and Levites ministering in their orders, with all the most 
solemn musical instruments that David found out, and the great con- 

" Brown, on Galatians, p. 235. "Dr. Owens' Discourse on the Na- 
ture and Beauty of Gospel Worship. 

122 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

gregation assembled, of hundreds of thousands, all singing praises to 
God ! Let any man in his thoughts a little compare the greatest, most 
solemn, pompous and costly worship that any of the sons of men have 
in these latter days invented and brought into the Christian Church, 
with this of the Judaical ; take the Cathedral of Peter, in Rome, bring 
in the Pope and all his cardinals in all their vestments, habiliments and 
ornaments, fill their choir with the best singers they can get, set out 
and adorn their images and pictures to the utmost that their treasures 
and superstitions will reach to, then compare it with Solomon's Tem- 
ple and the worship thereof, and he shall quickly find that it holds no 
proportion with it, that it is all a toy, a thing of naught in comparison 
of it" Yet this splendid, pompous and costly ritual has been cancelled 
by the same authority which ordained it" After all, it was but a veil 
which Moses put over his face which the spirit of the Lord hath taken 
away, that "we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glor}' of 
the Lord, may be changed into the same image from glory to glory." 
These were but the elements of the world," under "the bondage" of 
which the children of God were, "until the time appointed of the 
Father." The glory of this economy is that it is "the ministration of 
the Spirit"; who being present, as "the anointing which teacheth the 
believer, and is truth and is no lie," has forever destroyed that dim, 
ceremonial service, which, like the shadows of a magic lantern, was 
only "a figure of the true." To introduce, therefore, pomps and rites 
into Christian worship with a view to make it impressive and gorgeous, 
is to Judaize it.** If the intention be only to give splendor and dignity 
to the service; by rights which have no emblematic signification, then it 
is "a show of wisdom in will-worship." The whole is thereby rendered 
impertinent and trifling, since the Church never had, even in the 
days of ceremonial observance, a ritual that was void of significance. 

" "The divine command is the only basis of religious duty ; and will- 
worship of every description has uniformly drawn down the expression 
of the Divine displeasure. With regard to whatsoever partakes of the 
essential nature of worship, it may safely be affirmed that what is not 
commanded is virtually forbidden. This constitutes the broad line of 
distinction between the worship of faith and the offerings of supersti- 
tion; the former alone partakes of the character of obedience, being 
founded upon the knowledge and recognition of the Divine will. 
Whatsoever is not of faith, whatsoever has not the Divine command 
as its basis, is not obedience, but sin." — Conder, on Protestant Non- 
conformity, p. 165. 

""Idolatry has reference either to the object or to the mode of re- 
ligious worship. . . . But idolatrous corruptions of the mode of 
worship are not less at variance with the religious principle. 'The 
descent of the human mind, from the spirit to the letter, from what is 
vital and intellectual to what is ritual and external in religion is,' re- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 123 

The argument is complete either way. If the ritual be emblematic of 
truth, then we have gone back to Judaism, reconstructing in part at 
least, a system that by God's will has ''decayed and vanished away;" 
if it be only sensuous and imaginative, then the arrogance is insuffer- 
able, which offers to guard what is confessedly unmeaning, to amuse, as 
it were, his heavy hours with the gauds and mimicking shows the chil- 
dren love. 

If this congregation has erected a building more grand and beauti- 
ful in architectural design than that which to-day we have left, it has 
been done only in the exercise of a lawful taste about a matter in itself 
morally indifferent. But I would prefer to see it razed to the earth, 
and its foundation stones be uncovered, than it should be supposed to 
lend a sanction to that stupid jargon of a so-called ecclesiastical 
architecture, whose ghostly mutterings have of late, through some 
Witch of Endor, been pouring in upon us from the dark ages. Be it 
known unto all men that here is none of "that beauty and glory which 
carving, and paintings, and embroidered vestures, and musical incan- 
tations, and postures of veneration, do give unto divine service."" 
No pealing organ, "through long-drawn aisle, and fretted vault," 
here "swells the note of praise." No "dim religious light" streams here, 
through storied panes, to cheat us with its likeness to the twilight 
hour. Here have we no wooden cross, no altar, no human priest, no 
emblematic furniture, "no ceremonies, vestments, gestures, ornaments, 
music, altars, images, paintings, with prescriptions of great bodily ven- 
eration." 22 "We know but one sacrifice, that which was offered up once 
for all, — ^the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation pf the world. 
We know of but one Priest, who with his own blood has entered 
through the veil into the Holiest, having obtained eternal redemption 
for us. We know but one temple on earth, that which is made such 
by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the saints of the most high God. 
We know but one gospel, to wit : "that God is in Christ reconciling the 
world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses ;" and with 

marks an eloquent writer, 'the true source of idolatry and superstition 
in all the multifarious forms which they have assumed' Whatsoever 
tends to compromise the spiritual for the sensible, whatsoever transfers 
the attention of the mind from invisible realities to material forms, 
directly opposes the spirit and tendency of Christianity. All attempts, 
therefore, to conciliate the homage of the irreligious to Christianity by 
an accommodation of its principles, its rights or its practical requisi- 
tions to the imagination and taste of worldly men, in whatsoever mo^ 
lives they may originate, must be stigmatized as frustrating the primary 
design of the Gospel and as partaking of the nature of idolatrous cor- 
ruption of religion." — Conder, on Protestant Non-conformity, pp. 20, 21. 
'^ Dr. Owens' Discourse, The Chamber of Imagery, 2* Ibid, 

124 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Paul we say, if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto us 
than that we have received, let him be accursed As for this building, 
my brethren, beautiful as it may be in our eyes, let it please us to call 
it only a plain Presbyterian meeting house. The glory we see in it, 
let it not be the glory of its arches and its timbers, — not the glory of 
its lofty and graceful spire, pointing ever upwards to that home the 
pious shall find in the bosom of God; not the glory of this chaste 
pulpit, with its delicate tracery, and marble whiteness, not the glory 
found in the eloquence or learning of those who, through generations, 
shall here proclaim the gospel, — ^nor yet the glory traced in the wealth 
and fashion, refinement and social position of those who throng its 
courts. But let its glory be "the glory of the Lord risen upon it!" 
Let its glory be the promises of the covenant engraved upon its walls, 
which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Let its glory be found in the 
purity, soundness and unction, of its pastors, — in the fidelity and watch- 
fulness of its elders, — ^in the piety and godliness of its members. Let 
its glory be as a birth-place of souls, where shall always be heard the 
sobs of awakened penitence, and the songs of new-born love. Let its 
glory be the spirituality of its worship, its fervent prayers, its adoring 
praise, and the simplicity and truth of its ordinances and sacraments. 
Let its glory be the communion of saints, who here have fellowship 
one with another, and also with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ 
Let its glory be as the resting-place of weary pilgrims, toiling on 
toward the heavenly city — ^the emblem of that Church above — 

"Where congregations ne'er break up, 
And Sabbaths never end." 


gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory 
shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and 
mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your head, O, ye gates; 
even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come 
in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, — he is the King 
of glory." " 

"These concluding sentences formed the closing prayer of the con- 
gregation, though incorporated here with the Discourse. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 125 

"And now, O, Lord God of Israel, which keepest covenant, and show- 
est mercy unto thy servants that walk before thee with all their hearts ! 
Behold the heaven, and the Heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; 
how much less this house which we have built I Have respect, therefore, 
to the prayers and supplications of thy servants ; let thine eyes be open, 
and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place ! 
Here choose Zion, and desire it for an habitation. Here abundantly 
bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread! Arise, O, Lord 
God, unto thy resting-place, — ^thou, and the ark of thy strength; let 
thy priests, O, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints 
shout aloud for joy. Let these walls be called salvation and these gates 

Mr. Palmer exercised the greatest care in the reception of 
persons into the Church. His session demanded of candidates 
for Church membership, evidence of a real change of heart, 
and Godliness of life. He and his session were honest, earnest, 
and thoroughgoing in the application of discipline. Hence the 
apparent growth of the Church was not rapid. Nevertheless, 
when he resigned the Columbia Church, in 1855, he left it 
ninety per cent stronger numerically than when he took it, 
and still further advanced as an efficient working organization. 


(January, 1843— October, 1855.) 

Served the Church at Large, by Helping to Found and Conduct the 
Southern Presbyterian Review. — By the Use of His Pen. — 
Came into Great Demand for Occasional Addresses. — Rendered 
TO Columbia Seminary Varied and Valuable Service. — Made 
his Home Life Contributory to his Influence for Good: Open 
TO Young People whom He could Help, e. g., to H. R. Reid, 
Basile Edward Lanneau, et ai — The Adviser and Comforter 
of many of his brethren on occasion. — ^entertained at his 
Home many Gentlemen whom He there Bettered. — Calls to 
Important Posts on Every Side. — Suffered Himself to be Made 
Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Columbia Seminary. — 
Mrs. Palmer's Prediction at the Time of his Transfer. — Degree 
OF D.D. Conferred upon Him in 1852. 

BETWEEN 1845 ^"d 1847, the desire to have an organ for 
the thorough, scholarly and unmuzzled discussion of theo- 
logical and ecclesiastical themes became strong in Columbia. 
There were giants there, in those days. They had messages 
from the Lord to their brethren, which they burned to deliver ; 
and they liked not Princeton's disposition to put a gag into 
their mouths. Accordingly an association of ministers, in the 
town of Columbia, established that very able periodical, The 
Southern Presbyterian Review; the first issue of which bears 
the date, June, 1847. This association conducted the Review 
for about a score of years, when the governing body was reor- 
ganized on a wider geographical basis and continued the publi- 
cation of the periodical down to 1885. It was succeeded by the 
Southern Presbyterian Quarterly, which began to appear July, 

The first editors of the Southern Presbyterian Review were 
James Henley Thornwell, George Howe, and Benjamin M. 
Palmer. There is no reason to doubt that Mr. Palmer gave 
himself to his editorial work with method, energy and persist- 
ence. He thought it no great thing to work fifteen hours out of 
twenty-four in this period, and perhaps averaged ten hours 
work a day in his study during his Columbia pastorate. There 


The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 127 

have come down, amongst his loose papers, lists of subjects 
carefully framed by his hand, on which he, as editor, wished 
to have articles from contributors. This suggests that he 
conducted a share of the correspondence, and probably super- 
vised such articles as he secured, as they were going through 
the press. An examination of the pages of the Review discloses 
the fact that he contributed, between June, 1847, ^"^ ^^ ®^^ 
of his Columbia pastorate articles enough to make an octavo 
volume of three hundred pages. An examination of the articles 
gives a new insight into the character, attainments, and prowess 
of the man. 

In the first issue, our young pastor, not yet thirty years old, 
appears with an article entitled, "The Relation between the 
Work of Christ and the Condition of the Angelic World." His 
contention is thus set forth by himself : 

"We are persuaded that the scheme of grace revealed in the Bible 
should be regarded from a far higher point of view than this low earth 
on which we dwell ; that its relations are more vast and extensive than 
is supposed by those who would confine it to any one district, class, 
or order of beings. Taking, indeed, the narrowest view of it, it is 
sublime beyond all human conception. The redemption of a single 
soul from death, its deliverance from the bondage of sin and the 
power of Satan, its entire sanctification, and its introduction into 
heaven, are all events of the most startling and impressive kind. The 
passage of even one redeemed saint from the deep pit and miry clay 
of sin to a throne with Christ in his glory, unfolds a history which 
might command a listening senate Of angels. But, if with John, we 
could behold, in Apocalyptic vision, the one hundred and forty and four 
thousand, standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, having his Fath- 
er's name in their foreheads, their voice asi the voice of many waters, 
and their song that of harpers, harping with their harps : in view of the 
immense number, each seemingly equally a monument to the mystery 
of grace, we should confess this is a great salvation, this salvation by 
the blood of Christ. Yet, this is but a standing point, from which to 
spring to a higher and more commanding view. We have only to 
look upon the different orders of worshippers in the heavenly temple 
and witness the whole hierarchy bending before the throne of the 
Lamb, to be overwhelmed with the mystery of divine grace. It is not 
difficult to say why 'the spirits of just men made perfect* should cry 
day and night. Thou are worthy, for thou hast redeemed us by thy 
blood;' but whence came these, — ^this innumerable company of angels — 
these 'flames of fire' — who catch from the redeemed sinner the keynote 
of praise, and swell the chorus, 'worthy is the Lamb that was slain' ? 

"The answer to this question brings us to the grave, yet delightful 

128 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

theme, which it is the object of the present article to pursue. It may 
be expressed in. the following proposition : 

" * Jesus Christ, by his atonement, has introduced into the moral gov- 
ernment of God the principle of grace, which avails to the confirmation 
of beings who are holy, as well as to the redemption of beings who arc 
fallen.' " 

In the argument which follows, Mr. Palmer shows famil- 
iarity with the best literature on the subject, from the Refor- 
mation times down. He discovers an acuteness and subtlety 
of insight, a reach and vigor of the constructive imagination, 
an agility, ingenuity, and strength of reasoning power, ex- 
traordinary ; and he clothes all that he has to say in forms of 
expression which do indefinite credit to the training his mother 
had given him in Milton, Shakespeare and the Bible. The 
imagery is so lofty that it reminds the reader of Milton's ; the 
language is so clear and precise it suggests the student of 
Shakespeare. As he himself saw that there wanted in his 
arguments somewhat to establish beyond the possibility of 
doubt the proposition for which he contended, and, as he ex- 
plicitly confessed the defect, the reader who is not carried 
with him in his conclusion, cannot fail to admire greatly 
this essay. 

In the December, 1847, issue of the Review, Mr. Palmer 
enters upon "an examination of the fixed character of the Jew, 
both intellectual and moral ;" and endeavors to discover "the 
causes which have steeped it in its present mould." He found 
the most obvious traits of the Hebrew character to be, "its 
almost superhuman tenacity;" "the singular elasticity of con- 
stitution," which enables the Hebrew to recover position of 
which he has been dispossessed once the dispossessing force 
has been withdrawn; "their incorrigible worldly-mindedness 
and consecration to the service of mammon ;" "their compara- 
tive freedom from the gross vices of other races;" and their 
intellectual activity and shallowness. He explains the produc- 
tion of these traits in the Hebrew race in an ingenious and able 
manner, betraying, by the way, no small appreciation of the 
Jewish people and character. Toward the close of the paper, 
he declares that "this analysis of the character of the Jews has 
been made with the practical design of interesting the reader, 
and inspiring a deep and prayerful regard for" the Jewish 
people; and presents a number of considerations wherefore 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 129 

Christians should strive especially for the conversion of this 
race. He declares: 

"Whoever, then, feels a lively sympathy with Christ in his 
present humiliation and prays to see him Lord of the whole 
earth, must be ill instructed if he does not feel a correspond- 
ing anxiety for the salvation for the House of Israel. It is 
not improbable that God is now reserving this people for a 
distinguished service in the way of evangelizing the world. 
Their complete diffusion over the globe — their comparative iso- 
lation among men — the extraordinary enthusiasm and energy 
of their character, destined to be greater when it shall be toned 
by truth — their very conversion to Christianity after so many 
ages of unbelief — all adapt them for extraordinary labor, in 
the missionary service. Perhaps the future history of the 
church will reveal many a son of Abraham with Abraham's 
faith, doing the work of Paul, preaching the faith which he 
once destroyed. And the conversion of the Jews, accomplished 
in fulfillment of a hundred predictions, will probably be the 
grand fact argument by which the truth of Christianity, in 
the latter days, will be attested." 

This article is especially interesting in view of the very 
intimate relations which he sustained throughout most of his 
later life with the Jews in New Orleans. His interest in the 
race was long grown ; and was explained by his concern for a 
people so interesting in themselves considered, and by his de- 
sire to see them converted to Christianity. 

In the issue of March, 1848, of the Southern Presbyterian 
Review, Mr. Palmer appears with an article on "An Inquiry 
into the Doctrine of Imputed Sin." He espouses the doctrine 
of immediate imputation; and argues its truth with nicety, 
elegance and force. In the issue of July, 1849, he appears 
in a paper headed, "A Plea for Doctrine as the Instrument of 
Sanctification." The paper was occasioned, as may be inferred 
pretty safely, by some of his own experience as a preacher, not- 
withstanding his great popularity. He says : 

"That a deeply seated prejudice exists in many parts of the church 
against the systematic exposition of the doctrines of the Bible, is too 
obvious a fact to be questioned. It probably falls within the experience 
of every pastor, to see the gathering frown, the averted shoulder, and 
the drooping head, as soon as certain doctrines are announced as the 
theme for discussion. It does not excite our surprise that the world 
of the ungodly should manifest this displeasure: for the same 'carnal 


130 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

mind' which is enmity against God, is enmity likewise against the truth 
of God But that professing Christians should engage in this unholy 
crusade against doctrinal religion, and that even ministers of the gospel 
should sigh over the earnest proclamation of its truths, and accuse the 
faithful witness of 'daubing with untempered mortar/ is certainly a 
most afflictive and atrocious scandal." 

He alleges that this strange phenomenon is explicable, never- 
theless ; and asserts that in some latent skepticism of the doc- 
trines themselves is the cause ; that in others timid concessions 
to the clamors of the ungodly have had play ; that in others the 
fear of losing church members by the exposition of doctrine 
prevails; that in others indolence and sluggishness of mind 
lead them to decry doctrine and to prefer exhortations; and 
that in others the belief obtains that doctrine is not necessary 
to sanctification. He next presents five stages into which the 
ordinary religious progress of Christians may be divided; and 
shows that doctrine is needed at, and through, every stage 
in order to progress. In the conclusion occurs the following 
reference to the standards of his Church as instruments of 
sanctification : 

"Indeed, we utter a long cherished conviction, when we say that, next 
to the Bible, from which all that relates to God and the soul must be 
drawn, there are no books we would sooner recommend for an experi- 
mental and devotional use than the Calvinistic Standards. We place 
them in the hands of children and think their office discharged when 
the *form of sound words' is transferred to the memory. How few 
think (to appropriate a child's expression) 'to learn these things by 
heart.' Many a Christian will devour a whole library of books of devo- 
tion and pious biographies, trying to draw on a ready-made experience, 
as he would a glove, when a better manual of practical religion is 
almost thumbed out in the hands of his child. Let him put ninety-nine 
hundredths of these volumes into the fire, and thoroughly digest his 
Shorter Catechism, and he will come forth a stronger, brighter, hap- 
pier Christian, and in sooner time, than if he had read the memoirs 
of all the saints and martyrs from Abel until now. The taste of the 
Church is so superficial that we should not wonder if the reader is 
smiling at this as a conceit, rather than a matured conviction of the 
writer. We would only plead with him for the experiment. Let him 
take the doctrine which he conceives most remote from practical life, 
and most hidden among the deep things of God — let him ponder it 
over till his mind has taken a deep and firm grasp of it — let him trace 
its relations to other doctrines, and to the whole scheme with which 
it harmonizes — above all, let him pray over it, until it is so revealed that 
he feels its power over his own spirit." 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 131 

In the issue ofthe same excellent Review, for October, 1849, 
we have, from Mr. Palmer's pen, an article entitled "Churdi 
and State." The article discusses with penetration and power 
the theories as to the proper relation of Church and State, de- 
fended, severally, by Bishop Warburton, Dr. Thomas Chal- 
mers, W. E. Gladstone, Esq., Dr. Thomas Arnold, and Baptist 
W. Noel, M.A. The writer discovers his ability to put his 
hand on the weak spot in a theory, and to find the joints in 
the harness of his enemy. Such studies as this show that 
it was by no accident that Mr. Palmer came to be an acknowl- 
edged master of the principles of church government. In the 
April issue for 1850, Mr. Palmer resumes the discussions of 
the same general subject, pays his special respects to the 
theories of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Coleridge; takes up the 
five leading arguments by which the advocates of the union of 
Church and State plead for this union, tears them up by the 
roots, and effectually disposes of them at the bar of reason. 
He commends the relation of mutual and helpful independence 
between Church and State. Dr. Thomas E. Peck, in his "Ec- 
clesiology," chapter xiv., "Other Theories of Church and 
State," pays to these discussions of young Mr. Palmer a hand- 
some tribute. He forms this chapter in large part by a reduc- 
tion of Mr. Palmer's presentation of the several theories. He 
did this apparently without knowing who the author was. The 
articles were unsigned. The author of the "Ecclesiology" sim- 
ply refers by volume and pages of the Review to the presenta- 
tions which had pleased him so much. 

In the issue of October, 1850, he appeared with a paper en- 
titled "Christianity Vindicated from the Charge of Fanaticism." 
He found the plan of this paper in the reply of Paul to the 
Procurator Festus, who had charged the Apostle with being 
beside himself: "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak 
forth the words of truth and soberness." He first presents a 
"compendious and portable argument for the truth of Chris- 
tianity;" and then the sober, sane, balanced view that the 
Christian takes of things. The production is acute and strong, 
and, in places, brilliant. In October, 1852, there appeared in 
the same periodical an article entitled "Baconianism and the 
Bible." It contained the substance of an address delivered be- 
fore the literary societies of Davidson College, N. C, August 
II, 1852. After a graphic portrayal of the methods and rela- 
tive fruitlessness of the Greek philosophy, the author sketches 

132 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the Baconian methods and the beneficent and splendid results 
flowing from the application of this method. He then proceeds 
to show why this philosophy should be the philosophy of Prot- 
estantism; and that revelation, so far from being hostile to 
science, contributes a powerful incidental influence in its favor. 
After a most effective argument he takes the ground that there 
never could have been a Bacon without the Bible ; that Francis 
Bacon was the offspring of the Reformation which gave the 
Bible to the world again ; and that he did for philosophy what 
Luther had done for the Bible, bringing out "the older vol- 
ume of nature" and interpreting its cipher to mankind. In the 
conclusion, he takes occasion to sound the warning that the 
philosophy which ignores the Bible and cancels its testimony, 
is not only baptized into the spirit of infidelity, but "has apos- 
tatized from the fundamental articles of the Baconian creed," 
which forbids the exclusion of a single pertinent fact from its 
generalizations. We cannot follow the author in an apparently 
unqualified endorsation of Mr. Locke's philosophy, and in 
other positions taken by the way ; nevertheless he has delighted 
us with the breadth of his attainments, the vigor of his 
thought, the force, fire and splendor of his rhetoric, and the 
strength of his arguments, so that we are in full sympathy 
with his closing words : 

"This discourse gives in two words — Baconianism and the Bible — 
a portable argument paralyzing the skeptic with the shock of the tor- 
pedo. The Baconian philosophy is the mother of that proud science 
which sheds such glory upon the age in which we live ; and this philos- 
ophy, as already shown, has historical and logical connections with 
the Bible, the charter of our religious hopes. We may rest therefore 
in the conviction that as the Bible has conferred the largest benefits 
on philosophy, true science will repay it with the largest gratitude. 
Kindling her torch at every light between a glowworm and a star, 
she will read to us *the silent poem of creation.' She will appear, like 
an ancient priestess, in the sacred temple of religion; and burn the 
frankincense of all her discoveries upon the altar of inspired truth. 
She will assemble the elements and powers of nature in one mighty 
orchestra, and revelation shall give the keynote of praise, while heaven 
and earth join in the rehearsal of the grand oratorio." 

In January, 1853, "The Qaims of the English Language" 
appeared as the leading article of the Southern Presbyterian 
Review for the month. It was the substance of an address 
delivered before the literary societies of Oglethorpe University, 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 133 

Ga., November, 1852. It was a magnificent plea for the study 
of the English tongue, for the exaltation of the English lan- 
guage to the same preeminence among the languages which 
those who speak it enjoy among the nations. The advocate 
had vast stores of pertinent truth which he set forth with 
marvelous felicity and power. The plea was needed at the time. 
If republished in pamphlet form and put into the hands of 
young men entering college to-day, it could hardly fail of doing 
incalculable good. 

In the April issue for 1853, appeared, from his pen, an 
article on "Mormonism." He had read this as a lecture be- 
fore the Mercantile Library Association of Charleston, January 
26, 1853, 2Lnd, at their request, published it with such verbal al- 
terations as adapted it to the Review, In its preparation he had 
studied Howard Stansbury's "Exploration and Survey of the 
Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah,*' a "History of the 
Mormons, or Latter Day Saints; with Memoirs of the Life 
and Death of Joseph Smith, the American Mahomet,'* and 
Lieut. J. W. Gunnison's "The Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, 
in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake ; a History of Their Rise 
and Progress, Peculiar Doctrines, Present Conditions and Pros- 
pects, Derived from Personal Observations During a Residence 
Among Them." In the paper he attempts to exhibit Mor- 
monism by running parallels in certain more prominent points 
with Mohammedanism. The essay was constructed with a 
philosophic spirit. The reader may not be able, to accept the 
philosophy in every point; but every page provokes thought 
as well as informs; and every page suggests that its writer 
was a man of broad philosophic spirit. Let the following 
excerpt serve as an illustrative proof of the kind of spirit that 
pervades and informs the article : 

"It is never easy to form a correct estimate of religious impostors. 
The deceit and falsehood which mark their course seem scarcely 
consistent with the religious sentiment that must underlie the char- 
acter. The great controversy, for example, whether Mohammed was 
a fanatic or an impostor, proceeds upon the supposed incompatibility 
of the two; yet their co-existence is needed to solve the facts of the 
case. We cannot explain the origin of a religious impostor, without 
supposing the religious element to be awakened, however it may be 
afterwards debauched and misdirected. The history of error abun- 
dantly shows that the most vicious principles will often mingle with 
the religious instincts of men, who are driven under this double impulse 


134 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

into the most riotous excesses. The original exciting- cause may be 
slight enough; but the hallucination, once entertained, of miraculous 
correspondence with heaven, an unscrupulous or ignorant conscience 
will not long hesitate at fraud in accomplishing the holy mission; and 
when success shall have consecrated the cheat, the impostor becomes 
fully ensnared in his own lie, and easily accredits to supernatural reve- 
lation the suggestion of his own fancy. Joseph Smith, the founder of 
the Mormon sect, is dogmatically pronounced an impostor by thousands 
who do not stop to enquire how far he may also have been an enthusi- 
ast; or to solve the query whether it be possible to control the re- 
ligious convictions of our fellow men, without a previous excitation 
of our religious nature. The biography of this remarkable person 
opens with the account of his deep spiritual distress during an exciting 
religious revival through which he passed while yet a youth. Perplexed 
in his choice between conflicting sects and creeds, he was for a time 
in that state of indecision in which multitudes vibrate between super- 
stition and skepticism. While perhaps on the verge of infidelity, he 
swung to the opposite pole, and conceived the project of founding a 
church, whose comprehensive creed should harmonize all sects, and 
swallow up dissent: and this lively suggestion of his own mind a 
heated imagination may easily have coined into a vision of God. 
Seven years, however, elapse, before this bold conception embodies it- 
self in a decided scheme. While *the vision tarries/ the nascent prophet 
relapses, if the story be true, into the vagrant habits of his early life, 
which show him to be constitutionally of a deeply superstitious turn. 
By the aid of seerstones and hazel rods, he had gained no small repu- 
tation as a money-digger. Certainly, if he failed to track the secret 
veins of silver, he did not fail to sound the depths of human credulity. 
At the end of seven years, he is prepared to enter upon prophetical 
functions, and announces a new revelation, whose origin forms a 
curious record in the annals of literary forgery."* 

No less than three of the articles to which attention has just 
been called had been prepared first of all to serve as addresses 
before scholastic or literary bodies. During this period Mr. 
Palmer came into great demand for occasional addresses. More 
particularly the demand for this sort of service at his hands 
came into vogue about 1850. In a letter written by young 
Basile Edward Lanneau, June 22, 1850, we read: 

"The exhibition at Barhamville on Wednesday night was quite 
brilliant . . . The crowning exercise of the occasion was an address 
to the graduating class, after they had received their diplomas, by the 
Rev. B. M. Palmer, whose merits as universal speechmaker are just 

* See pp. 561, 562. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 135 

beginning to be discovered. The object was to delineate the 'perfect 
woman/ in which he struck all the tones 'from grave to gay/ from 
lively to severe. It was beautiful, witty and solemn, all by turns, and 
seems to have given universal satisfaction. The Telegraph has re- 
quested it for publication, and so a copy may possibly reach you. I 
hope it did good. 'G>usin Augusta' (Mrs. Palmer) probably sat for 
the portrait, at least in his mind; and I must do her the justice to 
say that she is not very far short of the ideal." 

Mr. Palmer seems to have made no attempt at keeping a 
journal. How much of this sort of occasional service he did 
it is perhaps impossible to discover. But as has been seen, 
in the year 1852 his address before the literary societies of 
Davidson College, and that before the literary societies of 
Oglethorpe University, were so elaborate and able that they 
were deemed worthy of publication in the Southern Presbyte- 
rian Review. 

Of the impression made by the former of these addresses, 
the Rev. Professor Wm. T. Hall, of Columbia Seminary, 
writes : 

"The first time I ever saw him was on the rostrum at Davidson 
College. He delivered as a commencement oration a discourse on 
'Baconianism and the Bible/ At first we were not prepossessed. He 
was rather small, his complexion was dark, his face was dished, his 
whole appearance was against him. But he had not spoken long until 
he had full attention. Interest deepened as he proceeded. The interest 
was genuine, but not painful. We found ourselves carried along by the 
full tide of the discourse, our vision gradually enlarging, and every 
faculty enlisted and charmed. The spell of the orator was upon us. 
Weeks passed before the echoes of that oration ceased to be heard 
on the college campus." 

August 9, 1854, he addressed the literary societies of Erskine^ 
College, South Carolina, on "The Love of Truth the Inspira- 
tion of the Scholar." In illustrative proof of this simple 
proposition he pointed in a profoundly philosophical way to 
the relations sustained by the human mind to the external 
world ; to the repose which belief brings to the human mind, 
as contrasted with the anguish of doubt ; and to the considera- 
tion that error is always poison to the mind, while truth is 
the food upon which it thrives and grows. He followed with 
a presentation of motives which should urge the student to 
cultivate the love of truth, closing with a consideration of ob- 
stacles which most retard its progress. It is philosophically 


136 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

able and rhetorically brilliant. The style shows that the 
speaker was not a little under the influence of Mr. Macaulay. 
The production shows that he had been ploughing in the master 
thinkers, and more widely still. The reader notes in him "the 
cormorant appetite with which things most crude and strange 
have been devoured, and the facility with which these are con- 
verted into apt and beautiful illustrations. A child's horn book, 
or a fairy tale — Cinderella's slippers, or Aladdin's lamp — 
nothing comes amiss." From his copious reading springs such 
an affluence of illustration as makes his speeches sparkle with 
life and beauty. By special request of the faculty and students 
the address was at once published in pamphlet form. 

June 4, 1855, he delivered a discourse, on John 6:68, 69, 
before the graduating class of the University of North Caro- 
lina. In this discourse he ably and eloquently argued the two 
propositions, viz : L That man's religious nature constrains him 
to And repose in some form of faith and worship, II. That the 
wants of this nature, well understood, are met only in Chris- 
tianity, as taught in the Gospel. The next day the members of 
the graduating class honored themselves by declaring that they 
were "not contented to have heard once, so learned and mas- 
terly a discourse," which had convinced them so thoroughly 
of the truth of Christianity; and by asking for a copy for 

Many addresses less thoroughly elaborated were delivered 
in the course of the period. Their character may be gathered 
from the description of one which he delivered at the close 
of the session of Columbia Seminary in 1852. The Rev. Basile 
Edward Lanneau describes it in a letter to his parents, bear- 
ing the date of July 16, 1852. He says: 

"The anniversary of the Society of Enquiry, on Monday evening, 
was also quite interesting. In Dr. McGill's absence, they fell back 
on our fluent kinsman, who, with his usual readiness of concoction and 
utterance, gave us a free and easy, plain and- powerful talk on the sub- 
ject of preaching, the sum of which was, that the preacher was a cer- 
tain great somebody, with superhuman qualifications, some of which 
he enumerated. It contained some powerful and stirring thoughts, 
some perhaps not sufficiently matured, but the more striking and 
impressive, from the undress in which they appeared." 

Columbia Seminary had been struggling with an insuffi- 
cient endowment, and, in consequence, with an insufficient 
faculty, from its incipiency up to the year 1855. The institu- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 137 

tion looked to the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of 
Columbia, that one of her sons most honored, for no little 
incidental service. He helped to raise her endowment that 
she might command the labor of James Henley Thornwell. 
That service is described, in part, in the following letter : 


"Columbia, S. C, March 24, 1855. 
"To Rev. B. E, Lanneau: 

"Dear Basile: It is two weeks to-day since I returned from my 
journey to the Southwest, and found upon my table your letter together 
with some forty others. If ydurs has not been answered before this 
it is because it could afford to be postponed, while the others had more 
imperative claims upon my immediate attention. 

"You are probably aware that about the loth of January I started out 
with Dr. Adger upon an agency in behalf of the Seminary to secure 
the endowment of a fourth chair; or rather to provide certainly for 
Dr. Thomweirs support. The history of the effort in Charleston 
(in which, however, I had no concern, it being conducted entirely 
by Drs. Adger and Smith) you have doubtless learned through the 
public prints. About $16,000 was taken up in money and bankable notes, 
chiefly in the Second Church and in Glebe Street (Church). This, 
however, includes the $7,500 raised in guarantee of Dr. Thomwell's 
salary for three years ; some portion of which was obtained at Columbia 
and elsewhere. I then went to Savannah and made a partially suc- 
cessful application there . . . Dr. Adger joined me in a united effort 
upon Augusta; from which place we moved forward to Montgomery. 
At this point we separated, I remaining at Montgomery, while he 
went to Selma. After this we joined forces and made a descent upon 
Mobile, and then upon New Orleans. In these several places we col- 
lected about $12,000, either in money or in notes bearing interest, 
maturing at specified times and payable in bank. The endowment 
stands now about $28,000. Edward, ipy brother, and Miller, of (Thester, 
go out next week upon a joint agency for the same object, to visit the 
villages and country churches of Alabama. We hope they will return 
with some $10,000 more. The three churches in Charleston which as 
yet have done nothing, together with the adjacent islands, will be good 
probably for $5,000. Then if (Columbia and Camden will raise $5,000, 
in addition, which is not a heavy appraisement, there will remain only 
some $12,000 to be raised by the rest of (Carolina and Georgia. The 
thing begins to look feasible, and notwithstanding the hard times, we 
are quietly pushing the endowment forward. The cry of hard times 
has lost all its terror to Adger and myself; for we have heard it rung 
in Qur ears for two months, until we lost all mercy and pushed for- 
ward in the very face of bankruptcy and ruin everywhere, and we have 
both concluded that in spite of the European war and the storms and 
the pestilence, and more than all, the unnavigable rivers, still the 

138 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

country will hold together long enough for us to endow the Seminary. 

''As regards the institution, things remain 'tn statu/ There have been 
some accessions, and we are all in harness, working with tight traces. 
Nothing new as to Dr. Thomwell, who still expects to leave the college 
in December. That, I hope, is now one of Dickens' 'fixed facts.' I 
have not resigned my pastorship, and probably will not before the 
fall Presbytery. My long absence has prevented that degree of 
consultation with the people necessary to so important a step. Besides, 
I am not unwilling to see further on first, in this whole business. 

"I cannot even begin to give you the particulars of my Western 
trip. It was in many respects very pleasant. I made many new and 
valued friends, and, I hope, made some capital for the seminary; 
but among the things most agreeable were two or three surprises. 
First of all was my meeting with Palmer Pillans, whom I supposed 
to be in Texas. At Mobile, standing at the church door, I saw a man 
eyeing me intently as I approached, and though his face was entirely 
in the bushes, after the fashion of the time, I penetrated the disguise 
at a glance and recognized Palmer, whom I had not seen since 1836. 
The pleasure, I believe, was mutual, and I found him the same old 
fellow that he was when we were boys together. I was greatly pleased, 
too, with his very pretty wife, whom I would have kissed, pretty 
cousin as she was, if I had not been afraid of Palmer. At New Or- 
leans, of course, I saw Foster Axson and his sweet little wife, but 
this was not a surprise as I knew of his location there. 

"From New Orleans I ascended the Mississippi, merely to say that 
I had sailed on the Father of Waters, as high as Vicksburg, and there 
found to my very great pleasure three families of Bunce cousins—one 
on my mother's side, and none of whom had I ever before seen. Two 
hundred and fifty miles of rough staging brought me back to Montgom- 
ery. At Liberty I found a religious meeting in progress with some 
interest, and here I spent three da^s of extremely delightful and profit- 
able labor. When I left, some thirty persons or more were anxiously 
enquiring the way of life, and some had already found it. 

"I am at home once more and full of work as usual. 

"Yours affectionately, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

During the school year, 1851 to 1852, also, Mr. Palmer had 
served the seminary, by lecturing on Church History and 
Church Polity; again, during the session 1853-1854, he had 
given similar service. In 1854 he was elected as professor for 
that chair. From that date on to October, 1855, he is to be 
thought of as filling both posts, his pastorate and professorship. 
During the session 1854- 185 5, he is said to have toiled about 
thirteen hours a day. He kept up his labors through the sum- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 139 

mer and early autumn of 1855. On the 7th of September, 1855, 
he writes to Dr. J. B. Adger: 

"I am very hard at work on my lectures for the next term; and 
notwithstanding my numerous drawbacks from job work of different 
kinds, I hope by October to be sufficiently forwarded, so that with the 
labors of another term, I shall have covered the whole ground with a 
set of lectures. It is a very heavy undertaking, however, and I may not 
quite compass it 

"I must be brief, as I have much to do before going to bed, and I 
must rise at 5 o'clock in the morning. I cannot stop to confer about 
various other matters. 

"Yours in love, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Meanwhile, during these years he had been making his 
home life contributory to his influence for good. His home 
was always open to the young people of character and promise. 
The ties of kinship perhaps were chiefly of force in determniing 
that the gifted young Basile Edward Lanneau should reside 
in Mr. Palmer's home, during a portion of his student career 
in the seminary, and continue to take his meals there during 
his later residence in the seminary as student, and instructor 
in Hebrew. On similar grounds might be explained his brother 
Edward's residing in his home during his seminary career ; but 
there were cases of a different kind. His home and heart 
were ever open to young men, whom helping, he felt he might 
also help his Master. Allusion has previously beeh made to 
Mr. R. H. Reid. This young man had, while at the famous 
classical school of Westly Leverette, in Anderson, S. C, come 
under Mr. Palmer's influence. The latter was at the time a 
licentiate, just from the seminary. He was already preaching 
with effect. In the course of his brief service at Anderson he 
conducted a protracted meeting; a goodly number confessed 
Christ and united with the church. Young Reid was among the 

In April, 1843, Mr. Palmer received a letter from Mr. 
Reid, acquainting him with his desire to study for the min- 
istry and seeking some information as to terms of entrance 
into the college in Columbia, and some advice as to what was 
practical for him to undertake. In reply to this Mr. Palmer 
wrote : 

"Columbia, S. C, May 5, 1843. 
"Dear Reid: Your letter, dated 22d ult, was received not long since 

I40 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

and gave me, I assure you, very great satisfaction. I am glad to be 
assured by yourself that your religious impressions have not been 
like the morning cloud and the early dew/ and still more that the 
Spirit of God seems to be drawing you into the holy ministry. It 
is a noble work, and we are more than repaid for all the self denial 
and laborious duty which we are called to endure and to perform. I 
trust that you realize its importance, and the solemn obligations 
which those assume who enter into it I am glad also to find that you 
feel the value of a full course of study. Depend upon it, you will feel 
it more and more every day of your life, and if you should spend six 
years or more in study, I do not think you would ever regret it. But 
I will not stop now to dwell upon general topics, but proceed at once 
to speak concerning your studies. 

"Your ignorance of mathematics will, I fear, be an effectual bar 
to your admission into the Sophomore class. I had supposed at first 
that you might enter as far in advance as that, and then you would rise 
into the Junior class in December, and be only two years and two 
months in college. But from your account your education hitherto has 
been unequal, that is, you have been pushed farther in some branches 
than in others. I send you, in company with this letter, a catalogue of 
the college, in the latter part of which you will find an account of the 
studies which are required for admission into the college. In compar- 
ing your letter with this catalogue, I imagine that you might enter 
the Freshman class in October, and rise to Sophomore in December 
and thus be a little more than three years in college. I presume you 
are fully prepared for that position as far as your classical and Eng- 
lish studies are concerned. You will perceive also that the Freshman 
class have studied in mathematics Bourdon's Algebra and Legendre's 
Geometry. By the first of July they will have been pursuing these 
studies for nine months; the vacation commences in July and they 
will do nothing till October. Now the question is, can you, by study- 
ing very hard on these branches, acquire in four months what the class 
has acquired in nine months? Perhaps you may. 

"I will try and send you by Mr. Orr, who is now in town, the neces- 
sary books, that is, 'Grecian and Roman Antiquities,' 'Bourdon's Al- 
gebra,' and 'Legendre's Geometry,' and Tytler's History.' If you can, 
I would advise you to drop your school at once, and devote your whole 
time to the study of these books. If I were keeping house now, I would 
urge you to come down at once and live with me and let me assist 
you in your studies, but as that cannot be, I would recommend to stiidy 
by yourself as much as you can those branches in which you are de- 
ficient, I think that by hard study you might catch up with the class, 
and thereby save a year in college. . . 

"You can do one of these two things, provided you make up your 
mind to use great diligence. You must write to me upon the reception 
of this letter and tell me what you think of these matters, and now, 

The Pastor at Columbia^ S. C. 141 

Reid, you must put your hand to the plough and must not look back; 
this course of study will require great patience and unwearied diligence, 
but remember you do it for the Lord, and that you will have your 
reward in the end. 

"I think you might get some assistance and direction in your mathe- 
matical studies. There is Mr. Orr, and young Harrison, now in col- 
lege, and General Whitman, all of whom can give you advice and di- 
rection, if you should become bothered in your studies. I would just 
ride up to Anderson and apply to some of them; no doubt any one of 
them will be glad to help a poor fellow over the rough path of learn- 
ing. That the blessing of God may attend you in your studies is my 
prayer. Love to your father and mother and brother and all friends. 

"Yours most truly, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Very soon Mr. Palmer was in possession of a home into 
which he could take his young friend. He at once wrote, tell- 
ing Mr. Reid that, if he could raise the other money necessary 
for his college expenses, his board should cost him nothing. 
The story may be continued in Mr. Reid's own language : 

"The first of October, 1843, found me in Columbia, a member of 
Dr. Palmer's family. As I had never studied algebra, he advised me to 
wait till the first of December before I applied for matriculation in col- 
lege. He taught me one hour a day for two months and I entered the 
Sophomore class, and for six years I was a member of Dr. Palmer's 
family. When I graduated from the college, in 1846, I moved to the 
seminary but still remained a member of Dr. Palmer's family. Par- 
ents cannot treat a child with more kindness than I received from Dr. 
Palmer and his wife. I learned much from him in his table talk. 

"I am now (1904) eighty-three years of age. I have come into con- 
tact with many men of prominence in my work ; but I have never found 
but one Dr. Palmer, — the prince of preachers, the model Christian 
gentleman, helpful alike to the rich and poor, whose single aim through 
a long, laborious life has been the salvation of souls, and the extension 
of the Redeemer's kingdom." 

In helping such youths Mr. Palmer was multiplying his own 
influence for good. This may be seen by glancing at the re- 
sults of Mr. R. H. Reid's ministry. After a brief period 
of service as pastor at Anderson, S. C, Mr. Reid accepted a 
call to Nazareth Church in the district of Spartanburg and 
began his long, honorable and largely useful pastorate in that 
church in January, 1853. Presbyterianism throughout the dis- 
trict received mighty impulses to growth from his labors. In 
his New Year's sermon in 1857, he brought before his con- 

142 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

gregation the subject of education. As a result, in October 
of that year, the cornerstone of the Reidville High Schools, 
male and female, was laid. These schools have continued for 
about a half a century a source of incalculable good to all "the 
region round about." Not only in these ways but in still 
others did Mr. Reid serve the people of his district. He, 
and to some extent, Mr. Palmer, in him, served them nobly. 
The following letter written, indeed, before Mr. Reid began 
his work in Spartanburg district, is valuable as showing that 
Mr. Palmer continued to further his influence over him after 
he had begun his active work of the ministry, and so to work 
through him. It is valuable, too, as revealing frankly some 
traits of Mr. Palmer's own character ; and as showing him in 
an aspect in which he frequently appears in this period, that of 
an adviser and comforter of his brethren on occasion : 

Columbia, May i, 1850. 

''Dear Reid: I acknowledge the receipt of two letters from you, 
since my last to yourself. The former of these I would have answered 
immediately, had there been time for you to receive it before the meet- 
ing of your Presbytery; the latter has just come to hand. As they 
both run in much the same strain they may conveniently be answered 

"I will not disguise from you, my dear fellow, that the tenor of your 
recent letters has occasioned me some uneasiness. My attachment 
to you prompts the most earnest wish that you may have an even 
and pleasant course through life; but that if your lot is to confront 
trials, that you may pass both bravely and discreetly through them. 
So far as I am acquainted with your public acts, they are just such as 
I approve. You did wisely not to yield to the pressure of public opin- 
ion, forcing you against your judgment and your conscience into the 
associations of the day, which wear so many Protean shapes that we 
scarcely become acquainted with one disguise before it is shifted for 
another. I concur, too, in the decision not to yield your pulpit and 
your people on a Sabbath of your appointment, out of mere courtesy 
to another denomination. The whole arrangement which previously 
existed was a scandal; and I am glad that you had the firmness to 
resist at the outset. Your recent refusal also to be ordained except 
upon the call of the people to settle as their pastor, I highly approve. 
There are but two offices to which, in accordance with our discipline, 
it is possible for a minister to be ordained : that of pastor, and that of 
evangelist. But to ordain ex professo for the latter, when everybody 
knows you are de facto the other, strikes me as a sort of pious fraud 
The impolicy of this species of Jesuitism is palpable, since no good 
is proposed to be effected, but the very great evil of discharging 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 143 

churches from the obligations which ought to lie with power upon 
their consciences. In relation to the postponement of your ordination 
as pastor, I am glad to be set right by your letter; though Gaillard had 
previously undeceived me. Your preceding communication merely 
stated that you had abandoned the expectation of being ordained, 
without assigning reasons for the change, and indeed, without hinting 
whether the postponement was for a limited or for an indefinite time. 
Having no clue of interpretation but the desponding tone of all your 
recent letters, I conjectured that you were utterly disheartened, or else 
that some issue had sprung up between the Anderson people and your- 
self, which had resulted in a separation. I am glad that it is not so; 
and that you and they are still looking forward at no distant day for 
the consummation of the pastoral relation. 

"I must do you the justice to say that I have had no apprehensions 
as to the substantial propriety of your actions; I could prophesy, with 
considerable confidence, upon the rise of every emergency, very much 
the decision you would finally reach. My anxieties have been rather 
directed to the state of your own feelings, lest you should work your- 
self into a morbid state of mind, unfavorable both for action and for 
deliberation in the midst of pressing difficulties. For some time past, 
all your letters have been tinged with a gloom which, I think, you 
should promptly shake off. This is not easy to one of a desponding 
temperament; especially when, as in your case, the despondency is 
united with a nervous excitability of the physical man, and a high 
degree of sensibility in the inner and spiritual man. Yet I do not hes- 
itate to say, that all of your comfort and a large degree of your pros- 
pective usefulness, depend upon your controlling these decided tenden- 
cies of your/character. Why, here you have been fretting yourself into 
fits because the world is split up into Odd Fellows, Free Masons, Sons of 
Temperance, et id omne genus, and because the Church is half asleep, 
content to starve their preacher with half an allowance of bread and 
their own souls with half an allowance of gospel truth. It must be 
confessed, the case is bad enough to make a good man sigh. But 
can it be you have forgotten that we have God, and time and truth 
upon our side, and that we can afford to be patient? We belong to 
a system which is eternal, and which sweeps in cycles that utterly bafHe 
all human comprehension. 'One day is with the Lord as a thousand 
years, and a thousand years as one day ;* and though this is far from be- 
ing true of us, it is true of that divine scheme to which we have conse- 
crated our lives, our hearts and our labors. It would be pleasant indeed 
to be permitted to move the church over an entire semicircle, or some 
larger segment still; but it is a matter of profound thanksgiving if we 
are used in pushing it forward but a single inch. If God allows ages 
to elapse in the erection of that splendid temple in which his praise 
is to be sung through all of a future eternity, it is perhaps enough for 
you and me to put but a single brick or stone into the glorious structure. 

144 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Be sure, that in due season it will go up ; and 'the headstone be brought 
forth with shoutings, grace, grace unto it' I commend to your notice 
the thoughts under the second head of a discourse, which I sent you the 
other day in a number of the Carolinian, and which you have doubtless 
received and read before this time. The great danger to which you are 
exposed is the same to which I am myself inclined in no small degree : 
Note that I speak only that which I have myself deeply pondered, and 
have frequent occasion to recall to my own self-rebuke. It is the dan- 
ger of impatience under opposition, of being wrought up to such a 
degree of exasperation, that all prudence and sometimes all firmness 
are overthrown. What you and I both want are a cool head, a warm 
heart and a strong will. Survey calmly all the difficulties of your po- 
sition, decide prayerfully upon the course which you must take in 
surmounting them, bring your will firmly to bear you on in that 
chosen course, and then hold steady, waiting patiently while God and 
truth and time carry you to a successful issue. Nothing is gained, 
but everything is lost, by getting into a fume, working yourself into 
a holy frenzy. Be patient; these obstacles are not to be overcome by 
a single effort, but by long-continued and faithful resistance. Let us 
take a lesson from the mariners, who have to shift their sails, and 
tack from side to side, and learn to drive the vessel on oftentimes in 
the very eye of the wind. It is a great art that, of managing a head 
wind so as to sail in spite of it. But haste and flurry never accomplish 
anything. Napoleon and Caesar, with all their military skill, would 
have lost every, battle, if they had lost their self-possession, but they 
kept cool, and conquered. Make up your mind, dear Reid, that you 
will, God helping, cross the Alps and take Rome. For what purpose, 
indeed, have we been called to the work of the ministry, but to set 
crooked places straight? And can we hope to do so without coolness 
and courage ? My son Timothy, *do thou endure hardship as a good sol- 
dier of Jesus Qirist.* You will live to see a thousand beautiful soap 
bubbles break themselves against that Rock on which Christ has 
built his Church. Even 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' 
'Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against him- 
self, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds; ye have not yet re- 
sisted unto blood, striving against sin.' It is well to have zeal, even a 
'consuming zeal;' but it is hardly modest to be more zealous than God 
himself. If he is patient, let us be so; if he waits, we must also; 
if he tolerates, we can often do nothing more than simply to protest, 
and to wait the divine adjudication of the controversy. Let me cite 
one more Scripture, pertinent to the matter in hand: 'The servant of 
the Lord must be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meek- 
ness instructing those that oppose themselves; if peradventure God 
will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,' etc. 
There now, I am done. I seated myself with the determination to 
g^ve you a decent scolding, and I cannot put a better smasher to my last 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C 145 

than the above sentiment of the Apostle. I will not apologize for the 
liberty I take in chastening you after this fashion. You know that 
with my hatred of the pen I would not take the trouble of writing so 
long a scold for any whom I slightly regarded. 'Faithful/ you know, 
'are the wounds of a friend;' 'let the righteous smite me, it shall be 
a kindness, and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent act that 
shall not break thy head.' . . . 

"Brother is now in town making arrangements for his wed- 
ding, which takes place on the 7th inst. This match has excited a 
good deal of remark, as his intended is not only not a pious girl, 
but one exceedingly gay, fond of dancing, whose only accomplishment 
is that she can achieve sixteen cotillions in a night She is said to be 
very young, and without intelligence, and the spoiled child of in- 
dulgent parents, but withal abundantly rich. The general impression 

is that is making a bed in a brierpatch; and he has doubtless 

injured himself in the estimation of all sober and discreet people. 

"By the way, this subject of marriage brings up the curious part 
of your recent letter in which you seek for whatever I have to offer 
on this subjept I had a hearty laugh, but have committed it to 
nobody's confidence but Mrs. Palmer's; whose aid I must require, if 
I am to provide a wife for you. It is a delicate ofKce ; and a man who 
has risked the responsibility of choosing for himself, would scarcely con- 
sent to devolve the same upon any other. You have, however, some 
precedents for it: the example of the devoted Oberlin, the entranced 
Tennant, and last, but not least, the famous John Calvin. The young 
lady in my own church, of whom I once spoke to you,- is still single, 
and though she is poor, she has the intellectual and spiritual endow- 
ments to make an active and useful Christian woman, I have but two 
suggestions on the general subject; for really my creed as to matrimony 
is exceedingly simple. The first is, commit this selection of a wife to 
Providence, and wait until you are caught. In matrimony, the fancy 
of the afiFections must take the initiative. There is no use of spurring 
these into action, they act best when they act spontaneously ; and while 
they do not act it will not distress you to live singly. There is no bene- 
fit that I know of in loving the abstract passion. Wait until it assumes 
the concrete, and is associated with some object of love. My second 
suggestion is, do not surrender yourself blindly to the impulses of the 
taste and heart, but weigh in the balance of a sound judgment the 
qualities of any who may have caught you by the horns. Piety, 
prudence and intelligence are the prominent characteristics she should 
possess. If to these she can add a trace of beauty, that will please the 
eye; and if a little pelf, that will relieve the purse. But neither of 
these is indispensable. Considering your peculiarities, good sense and 
a disposition to look on the bright side of things are important traits. 
Such a wife will attract you to the middle of the house — ^the safest place, 
— whereas, you are probably disposed to live either in the garret or 

146 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the cellar. A good wife is from the Lord: therefore deliver yourself 
in this to the guiding of his Providence. The great secret of a happy 
choice may be given in a single sentence: it consists in uniting the 
taste and the judgment equally in the selection. Let the former be 
the active power, going forward in the choice; and let the latter be 
the satisfying power, indorsing or else vetoing, as the case may be. 
If both are satisfied, there is not much danger of forming a connexion 
that will be regretted hereafter. But I must close these sentences so 
imitative of the Proverbs of Solomon. Adieu. 

"Most afiFectionately, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

"I shall not come to Anderson in May, as you are not to be ordained. 
I prefer to reserve my visit until such time as that event shall take 
place. Perhaps I shall hit your marriage at the same time." 

Mr. Palmer entertained at his home many persons whom 
he there bettered ; and he met in a social way many more upon 
whom he put a helpful impress. During his residence in Co- 
lumbia he was on terms of intimacy with many of the public 
men of the State, the governors, the judiciary, and the mem- 
bers of the legislatures. On the fly leaf of a volume of Cal- 
houn's works, which may be seen yet amongst Dr. Palmer's 
books in his old study in the home of Prof. John W. Caldwell, 
the loiterer reads the inscription: 

"Rev. Benjamin M. Palmer, with the Y-espects of J. H. 
Means." J. H. Means was governor of the State. 

During this pastorate Mr. Palmer was a member of a literary 
society, made up of the most cultivated and refined citizens 
of the town. In his later life he was often heard to speak 
of the lavish entertainments given in connection with their 
meetings. It can hardly be doubted that he was a valued 
member of this society. Few of his fellows could have equaled 
him in brilliancy, urbanity and charm of manner. 

During his Columbia pastorate Mr.. Palmer received numer- 
ous calls: He was called to the Second Presb)rterian Church, 
Baltimore, in 1846. He favored accepting the call, but was 
withstood successfully by his church and congregation before 
Charleston Presbytery. He was disposed to accept the over- 
tures of the Glebe Street Church, of Charleston, S. C, in 1852, 
to become its pastor. The session of that church adopted a 
noble course toward the session of the church in Columbia. 
The minutes of the latter tell us that, a "courteous letter was 
received from the session of the Glebe Street Church at Charles- 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 147 

ton, addressed to the session of this church, informing them 
of their intention, to apply to Presbytery in order to procure 
the services of our pastor, the Rev. B. M. Palmer. Said letter 
was duly considered, without the knowledge and in the ab- 
sence of the pastor; and the clerk was directed to prepare a 
reply, setting forth their determined opposition to the prose- 
cution of said call, and the hope that the session of the Glebe 
Street Church would, at once, arrest, or desist from any 
further proceedings in the matter." * In this same year, 185^, 
he received a call to Cincinnati. Of circumstances attending 
this call, Mr. Bazile Edward Lanneau writes to his mother, 
March 20, 1852 : 

"The Cincinnatians are very sanguine, but I think he (Mr. Palmer) 
is now much more staggered by the difficulties in the way and the oppo- 
sition at home, than he was at first He made a statement of the 
posture of affairs to the congregation on Sabbath week, which led to 
a meeting yesterday for the appointment of a committee to memorialize 
Presbytery, and the appointment of a commissioner in behalf of the 
congregation. I do hope that Presbytery will have no hesitation in 
putting their veto upon it. Dr. Thomwell is strongly opposed to his 
going, but may be prevented from attending Presbytery, as may also 
Dr. Leland." 

He was called to Philadelphia in the year 1853, and was 
not a little moved towards accepting that call. He had been a 
member of the General Assembly sitting in that city in the 
spring of 1853, was honored by the Assembly and brethren of 
his faith generally in the city. Hence, perhaps, in part, his 
inclination to go. • In the same year he was elected lo the 
chair of Hebrew in Danville (Ky.) Theological Seminary. 
This he refused without much difficulty. He never betrays 
considerable leanings toward the professorial life. In 1854, 
he was again called to Cincinnati. Mr. Bazile Edward Lanneau 
writes his mother, January 28, 1854: 

"You will, by this time, have heard the news of Cousin Ben's Cin- 
cinnati call, announced, I see, in the Watchman and Observer (Rich- 

• Records First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S. C, Jan. 31, 1852. 

•According to Mr. Alfred Lanneau, Charleston, S. C, the calls for 
Mr. Palmer's services in the Northern Churches led the Southern 
commissioners to the Assembly in 1853, in a meeting called for the pur- 
pose, to express their unanimous opinion that he should not leave the 

148 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

mond), with (I think) just comment. An emissary arrived last week, 
followed him to Barnwell and is, I suppose, now on his return. Dr. 
McGill is at the bottom of it. I have as yet had no opportunity of 
conversing with him about it, and have no idea how he will regard it 
Just now he is more in a condition to be influenced by a call abroad 
than usual, owing to his feeling of embarrassment in reference to the 
Seminary. Still I think Cincinnati will scarcely have the attractions, 
either of inclination or duty, which Philadelphia had, viewed in the 
radiance of the Assembly of 1853. I do hope Providence will settle 
him and the Seminary (shall I not say in the Seminary?) before long." 

This call, from the Central Church of Cincinnati, was pre- 
sented and urged with great ability by the commissioners 
from that church, before the Presbytery which met at Or?inge- 
burg, S. C, ill 1854. The churdi at Columbia resisted the 
proposed removal of their pastor, appearing before the Pres- 
bytery by a special delegate who fulfilled his trust in a man- 
ner highly gratifying to those whom he represented. The dis- 
cussion, although protracted nearly two days, was conducted 
with marked courtesy and in a Christian spirit. The result 
may be learned from the following resolutions which were 
adopted without a dissenting voice : 

"The Presbytery having carefully considered the call of the Central 
Church of the City of Cincinnati for the services of the Rev. Dr. 
Palmer and weighed the reasons both for his translation and for his 
continuance in his present location, do hereby resolve : First, that while 
we are impressed with the importance of the Central Church in the City 
of Cincinnati, whose call was so ably urged by the commissioners before 
us, we feel ourselves unable to place the call of that church in the hands 
of Dr. Palmer or release him from his present charge with a view of 
his translation to that church and Presbytery. 

"Second, That in coming to that result, we are influenced by no 
considerations of sectional prejudice. We acknowledge in all its fulness 
that the church and all her interests are one ; but in the Providence of 
God, our brother is so connected with the great interests of this portion 
of the church that we regard his continuance here as highly important 
to t^e best interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, and our interpretation 
of the Divine will is in accordance with this belief." 

He received calls to several other churches, during his period 
at Cplumbia. He received, in 1855, a very important one to 
New Orleans; but of that somewhat shall be said in the next 

In 1854 Mr. Palmer suffered himself to be made Professor 

of Ecclesiastical History and Polity in Columbia Seminary. 

The Pastor at Columbia, S. C. 149 

This made necessary, after a time, his release from his connec- 
tion with his old charge in Columbia. His church and congre- 
gation could not look for help from either Presbytery or 
Synod for aid to prevent his making this change. 

Mrs. Palmer knew her husband well enough to be able to 
utter a prophecy which was soon fulfilled. To the advocates of 
his transfer to the professorship she said: "You will soon 
lose both pastor and professor. Your new made professor 
must be a pastor ; you have, in taking him out of this church, 
made it inevitable that he shall soon accept a call to another 

In November, 1852, Oglethorpe University, at Milledge- 
ville, Ga., had conferred on Mr. Palmer the degree of Doctor 
of Divinity. 




Columbia Seminary in 1855. — Dr. Palmer's Previous Services there 
AS Lecturer and Teacher. — His Years of Professedly Profes- 
sorial Service. — Hi§ Success as a Professor. — The Call from 
THE First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. — His Convic- 
tion THAT He should be a Pastor and the Grounds for that 
Conviction. — Leave from Seminary and Synod to go to New Or- 
leans. — Some Incidental Services During this Period : That of 
Christian Comforter; and the Part He took in the Installa- 
tion OF HIS Father as Pastor of Stony Creek and Walter- 
BORO. — His Transition to a New Sphere. 

COLUMBIA SEMINARY had been doing a useful work 
from the day of her founding. In the year 1854, she had 
worthy men in her professorate, in Drs. George Howe and 
A. W. Leland. But she was not measuring up to the demands 
of her friends. At that epoch there was a general advance in 
theological education. Princeton, Union Seminary, in Virginia, 
and Alleghany Seminary, had all been strengthened by the ad- 
dition to their faculties of men of power. The Danville Sem- 
inary, in Kentucky, had been created the year before, with all 
the intellectual force in its faculty which the West could com- 
mand. If Columbia was to maintain herself as a competitor 
of these institutions, it behooved her to equip herself with a full 
corps of instructors. In the words of Dr. Thomwell, "Things 
had reached a crisis and something vigorous was to be done, 
or the seminary virtually abandoned. It was ascertained that 
if things remained another year as they were, the next session 
would, in all likelihood, open with the merest handful of stu- 
dents, not more than six or eight. The Board determined to 
propose a measure which, it was thought, would remove these 
grounds of complaint. They nominated me for the chair of 
theology, and Palmer for that of history." This well digested 
plan of the Board was carried through at the annual meetings 
of the Synods of South Carolina and Georgia, in November, 
1854. During the session of 1853-4, Dr. Palmer had served the 
seminary as Provisional Instructor in Ecclesiastical History 


Professor in Columbia Seminary. 151 

and Polity. He had given sufficient promise of distinguished 
service to the seminary to make some of its friends very anx- 
ious lest he should be enticed, before the work of the Board 
could be ratified, to some other quarter of our Church's terri- 
tory. The Rev. J. B. Adger seems to have been amongst the 
anxious ones, as. the following letter shows : 

'Columbia, S. C, September 4, 1854. 

'Dear Brother: Your favor of the 31st of August came to hand 
by this evening's mail, and spurs my half formed resolution which for 
days I have entertained of writing you. 

*The statement in the Watchman and Observer, to which you refer, 
attracted my attention at the time, as an instance of that idle gossip 
which creeps into our public journals, and which one knows not how 
to contradict. I know not who the writer is, but the statement is ut- 
terly without foundation so far as respects myself. The allusion must 
have been to the Augusta call; but that call was declined by me abso- 
lutely before the meeting of the Board. I have had no overtures from 
any quarter since you were in G>lumbia, and I am meditating no change 
of field whatever. In regard to Brother Thornwell, I am tmable to 
answer your queries. He has been away since the first of August, 
and I have received no letter from him. In my late conversation with 
him, his mind was greatly perplexed. He doubtless has misgivings 
upon several points connected with the question of his transfer to the 
Seminary— doubtful whether the number of candidates for the ministry 
in the South is sufficient to warrant that increase in the Seminary 
which will justify his removal from the College; and doubtful whether 
the cheapness of living at Danville as compared with Columbia, will 
not decide the question with many to go to the former place, who might 
be expected to come here; and doubtful, in the most favorable cir- 
cumstances, whether he may not do more for God and the truth in his 
present position. I think, however, he had not at all drawn back from 
the ground on which he stood, when you saw him last During his 
travels, he has doubtless been thrown amongst those who are warmly 
attached to him, and who will oppose his resignation of the presidency. 
What effect, if any, their representations and solicitations may have 
with him I have no means of knowing. As you say. the suggestion of 
.the Board seems to be the only alternative before the Synod; yet I 
cannot anticipate its consummation without pain. We give up a great 
deal in taking Thornwell from the College; and nothing but the stern- 
est necessity justifies the sacrifice; yet that necessity, so far as I can 
see, does really exist. As to myself, I shall feel thankful to God if He 
shall turn the mind of the brethren at Synod to the choice of another, 
as was the case last year. My own judgment and inclination are de- 
cidedly against it — ^much more so than last year. And I do not hesitate 
to say, if the question was the same as last year, to elect me alone, I 

152 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

should instantly refuse: to serve. G>nstituted as the Seminary now is, 
without an able man in the Theological Chair, I could not entertain 
the thought for a moment; and if a really able man, say Dr. Thorn- 
well himself, was now the professor of Theology, I should not feel 
that the Seminary was in such extreme distress as to require on my 
part the sacrifice of interest, of taste, and of feeling. But it is to se- 
cure Brother Thornwell to the Seminary as the teacher of theology, 
and for this alone, that I have gained my own consent to be wholly 
passive and allow the Synod to dispose of me as they see fit. If the 
vote divides upon Brother Thornwell, or he fails to serve, leaving the 
Seminary as it now stands, I shall not go into the chair of history — for 
as long as the students are dissatisfied with the instruction received in 
theology, nothing can raise the institution. If the matter is submitted 
to me, after all that has occurred, my way is abundantly clear to abide 
by the office of Pastor — for the way has been as singularly open to 
me to remain in the pulpit, as it has been closed to my going into a 
professorship. This fact joined with another that I have a decided 
love for preaching, and never one antecedent wish to exchange this for 
any other species of labor, would be conclusive, if I were to trust in 
my own judgment. I wish the Seminary to prosper — ^and to this pros- 
perity, the services of Brother Thornwell seem to me to be necessary — 
and therefore I am willing to occupy the subordinate part which I 
do in this business. The Seminary being safe, I would be glad if the 
plan of the Board touching myself should fail. If it succeeds, I shall 
go into the institution without that glow of feeling which springs 
from the gratification of one's spontaneous and original choice. 

''I am rejoiced to hear the good news concerning Mr, and Mrs. 
Pelham, and will seek them out very soon. Present me most kindly to 
your good wife, and believe me 

"Your most truly, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

The foregoing letter makes it clear that its author was 
being dragged off his pulpit throne; that he was unwilling to 
set his single judgment against that of his brethren; but that 
all his inclinations and all his motives were toward his teach- 
ing from the pulpit men and women in the sap and juice of 
life, in a wrestle with the world. A little later he wrote again 
to Mr. Adger, disclosing a similar attitude toward seminary 
work, a desire to take measures to secure Mr. Adger's election 
in his place, and disclosing also the heavy burdens he was bear- 
ing at the time. 

Columbia, S. C, October 13, 1854. 
''My Dear Brother: I do not know why I have taken up the pen, 
unless it is to exchange salutations with you. Dr. Howe handed me 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 153 

your letter addressed to him, in which you invite an opinion from me 
respecting the appointment to the Presidency of Davidson College. 
Briefly, I would say that the G>llege must, I think, ultimately prosper, 
though for a long time it will be labor under embarrassments. It is 
an infant institution, has scarcely the furnishing requisite for a college, 
labors under a low standard of scholarship which the local public 
opinion too much justifies, and has a corps of teachers scarcely such 
as you or I would select. The worst of all is an old and open feud 
between two distinct parties among the trustees and patrons of the 
college itself. When I add to these things, the trouble and responsi- 
bility of managing a body of students, and the necessity of taking the 
whole institution upon your shoulders, in order to lift it from the 
dust into something like respectability, I am sure you will not find 
the situation a sinecure. Nevertheless, I know no man so sure of 
success in this difficult undertaking as yourself, and I fully justify the 
wisdom of your appointment. But, my dear brother, if you have the 
least inclination for scholastic life, why not take the professorship of 
History in the Seminary? You will be nearer the great heart of the 
Church, will have associates whom you cherish, and preserve all the 
ties social, domestic and public which bind you here. As to eyes, you 
will have to study in either position; and though the range of investi- 
gation is certainly wider in the Seminary, yet this is fairly counter- 
balanced by the greatec anxieties of the other position. Anxiety sends 
the blood to the head full as much as study; and the one place has 
scarcely the advantage over the other, all things considered, when it 
comes to eyes. You do not know with what real relief of feeling I 
would nominate you to Synod in my place. I have not one lurking 
desire for the chair, and only consented to be passive under the nom- 
ination, hoping thereby to secure Brother Thomwell to the Seminary. 
You will be fully as^acceptable to him as myself, and I am sure much 
mor( acceptable to the Synod; as I am sure the same feeling exists, 
as last year, as to my relations to the pulpit. Pray think of this matter ; 
and if possible, do nbt decide in favor of Davidson till after meeting 
of Synod. 

"I have just returned from the meeting of the Seceder Synod, where 
Brother Banks and myself were very kindly received; and perhaps as 
much was accomplished as could be reasonably anticipated at the outset. 
A similar deputation was appointed to attend our Synod, and a com- 
mittee raised to confer with any similar committee on our side. I was 
gratified to find nearly all the leading members anxious for the pro- 
posed union; but the body as a whole, and especially the members of 
the church at large, are scarcely prepared yet for such a result. I hope 
we will be patient and forbearing, as far as becomes a proper Chris- 
tian self-respect; and if no more, intercommunion between the two 
branches will be effected. 

"You will be sorry to learn that Dr. Howe is laid up with a serious 

154 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

attack of erysipelas. His face is exceedingly swollen and he suffers 
greatly. As it is taken promptly in hand, it is hoped he will not be 
confined long. Dr. Leland still suffers with his arm from the fall, 
of which you have doubtless heard. 

"I have not seen Brother Thomwell for two weeks. He is busy at 
the College, and I at the Seminary. You do not know how hard I work, 
ten hours a day, and that scarcely keeps me up with a daily exercise 
with my classes. I have undertaken the Herculean task of lecturing 
systematically upon the whole course of Church History in connection 
with the text-book, in order to gfive the philosophical and real con- 
nections. To one ignorant as myself it is a task scarcely inferior to 
taking the Alps on my shoulders — Church History in its totality is 
bigger than the Alps. I am not as much discouraged as yourself in 
reference to Thornwell's transfer — the opposition in South Carolina 
Presbytery is more noisy than general, so far as I can learn. Bethel 
is unanimous, or nearly so — ^and I hear of no resistance in Harmony ex- 
cept from Brother Coit The most discouraging feature is, that 
Brother Thornwell does not himself particularly desire the change. 
He consents, if the Synod so wishes; but that is all. However, I 
still wish and hope. Brumby's plan of putting me into that chair must 
not be thought of. But my sheet is out. If I am at Synod, I shall lay 
aside all delicacy, and advocate warmly Thomweirs appointment on 
grounds I have not yet heard mentioned; and will be most happy if 
you will consent to be coupled with him in the nomination. With 
kindest salutations to Mrs. Adger and all of your household, from all 
here. Most affectionately, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Formally elected as professor in 1854, Dr. Palmer most 
earnestly strove to acquit himself nobly bpth as pastor and 
as professor. It has already appeared that his ideals of minis- 
terial duty were very high. His ideals of duty in his profes- 
sorship were equally lofty. He craved nothing less than 
philosophical scholarship and the ability to beget it in his stu- 
dents. Tradition says that he had a long working day through 
this session, — ^thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours out of the twen- 
ty-four, according to his need. The double burden was too 
great to be carried according to his ideals ; and he came peril- 
ously near making shipwreck of his health. 

He was a success as a teacher. This is evident from certain 
remains of his lectures. One of these lectures he published 
in the Southern Presbyterian Review, April, 1856.. The sub- 
ject was, "The Import of Hebrew History." The reader can 
see in this paper proof of Dr. Palmer's ability to deal with his- 
toric movements in a profoundly philosophic way, and in a 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 155 

style, as regards structure and diction, scarcely less splendid 
then Macaulay's. His abilities as teacher are testified to by 
many of his students also ; from these it is also learned, how- 
ever, that he did not, in the brief period during which he gave 
himself to teaching, develop such extraordinary adaptedness to 
that form of service as to preaching. Thus the Rev. Prof. W. 
T. Hall, now of Columbia Seminary, who sat as a student under 
Dr. Palmer during the session of 1855-1856, writes: 

"One session hardly affords opportunity for estimating the capacity 
of a teacher; and a class of juniors may not be the best of judges. 
Dr. Palmer's own opinion was that his proper sphere was the pulpit: 
and none of us was disposed to call his opinion in question. Not that 
he was by any means a failure in the class room; but for the reason 
that he was a prince in the pulpit. In fact he was easily the best teacher 
we Jiad until Dr. Thomwell came in, about the middle of the session. 
We understood that he was offered a chair in Princeton Seminary 
about the time he left Columbia. There can be no doubt that he would 
have made a great reputation, and have been a pillar in the Seminary, 
if he had chosen to devote his life to teaching. In one respect he 
certainly had no superior. I refer to his personal influence on the 
students. His Christian character was one of his strong spints. I 
never knew a Christian whose 'walk* was more worthy of the 'voca- 
tion.' Students were impressed by the strong, healthy type of his 
piety; and consulted him in their spiritual conflicts. He was also a 
model of industry. Report credited him with fifteen hours given to 
study out of the twenty-four. He was then laying the foundation for 
his long and successful ministry." 

As a teacher he certainly was not wanting in the analytical 
faculty, nor in the power of luminous statement, nor of logical 
reasoning, but as a teacher he had less use for some of his pre- 
eminent gifts, for he was above all things a woAderful word 
painter, a past-master in the art of description, and a magician 
in dealing with the sentiments of the human heart, particularly 
the pathetic. The seminary professor should never forget 
that the heart of the student demands his attention as well as 
the head, but his concern is chiefly with the head; he is to 
impart knowledge to one already earnestly Christian. He 
hardly has time or scope for the exercise of the peculiar gifts 
which made Palmer so easily the master of great popular as- 
semblies, hence Dr. Palmer felt that he was not in his true 
sphere when in the class room. 

In the fall of 1855 his connection with the Presbyterian 

156 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Church in Columbia, as pastor, was broken, the people reluc- 
tantly giving him up. He continued, at their request, to serve 
them as stated supply till the end of December, 1855. They 
would have had him unite with Dr. Thornwell in jointly sup- 
plying their pulpit thereafter, but he preferred (o wean the 
people at Columbia from him. As he had to have a preaching 
place, he complied with the request of the Presbyterian Church 
at Orangeburg, S. C, to fill their pulpit from Sabbath to Sab- 
bath, during the year 1856. 

Meanwhile the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans 
had been making powerful efforts to secure him as its pastor. 
In company with his friend Adger he had, as has been seen, 
visited New Orleans in the early part of 1855, soliciting sub- 
scriptions to endow a chair in Columbia Seminary. The pulpit 
of the First Church was vacant at that time, Dr. Scott having 
resigned and removed to San Francisco. On the morning of 
their first Sunday in the city. Dr. Adger preached to the people 
of the First Church, and Dr. Palmer, the younger man, at the 
Prytania Street Church. They exchanged pulpits in the even- 
ing. In the interim between morning and evening service, 
the people who had been in the Prytania Street Church were 
talking enthusiastically about the little gentleman, the wonder- 
ful preacher who had spoken to them. That evening the people 
of the First Church flocked to hear Dr. Palmer preach; and 
were captivated by his bearing and eloquent discourse. They 
were "struck with his graceful action and his beautiful, soul- 
stirring diction." "The speaker seemed lifted so high by his 
illustrations, by his grand images" that at times they "feared 
he would never be able to get down from the heights without 
a tumble, or at least a stumble ;" but he would "come swooping 
down with all the grace with which he went up" and stand 
there on the platform a simple, humble man. The matter of his 
discourse seemed no less excellent, didactically rich and emo- 
tionally and spiritually quickening. On the next Sabbath he 
seems to have preached again to these people, and to have so 
preached that his message burned itself indelibly into the mem- 
ories of his hearers. In the month of September following, 
they gave him a unanimous call to be their pastor. He would 
gladly have accepted it but was retained by his Presbytery, 
which resolved, "That after weighing carefully the claims of 
the First Church of the city of New Orleans, for the pastoral 
labors of the Rev. B. M. Palmer, D.D., as earnestly and elo- 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 157 

quently set forth by their commissioners, who have appeared 
before this body, we find ourselves unable to place this call in 
his hands, because Dr. Palmer's labors as professor in the 
Theological Seminary are indispensable to the prosperity of 
that institution, and because we must not contravene the wishes, 
nor defeat the action of the Synod, our higher judicatory, 
which has unanimously placed him in that office." The com- 
missioners from New Orleans, Messrs. J. M. Picton and J. A. 
Mabin, at once gave notice of complaint to the Synod, and the 
next day read a statement of their grounds of complaint, under 
the following heads: 

"First. Because the election of Dr. Palmer, by that church and con- 
gregation, to become its pastor, was unanimous; their attention being 
exclusively directed to him through a period of several months. 

"Second, Because New Orleans is a most important field of labor, 
eminently requiring the services of Dr. Palmer in it. 

"Third. Because the interests of our own church would be greatly 
promoted by the services of Dr. Palmer in that city. 

"Fourth. Because the interests of the Church of Christ generally 
require the services of Dr. Palmer in New Orleans. 

"Fifth. Because a number of members of Evangelical Churches in 
New Orleans express their earnest wish that Dr. Palmer should labor 

"Sixth. Because the talents and attainments of Dr. Palmer are 
peculiarly adapted to that place. 

"Seventh. Because the interests of the Theological Seminary of the 
Synods of South Carolina and Georgia would not be injured by the 
removal of Dr. Palmer from the Chair of Church History and Polity, 
to which he has been elected to become the pastor in New Orleans 
of said Church and congregation. But on the contrary the said inter- 
ests would be promoted. 

"Eighth. Because the arrangements that have been made respecting 
Dr. Palmer's filling the Chair of Church History and Polity in said 
Seminary, present no obstacle or impediment to the removal of Dr. 
Palmer to New Orleans as the pastor aforesaid. 

"Ninth. Because Dr. Palmer is under no pledge of any kind or na- 
ture, either to the Seminary or to its contributors, or others, to pre- 
vent his accepting of said call. 

"Tenth. Because Dr. Palmer considers himself under no pledge of 
any kind or nature, either to the Seminary or to its contributors, or 
others, to prevent his acceptance of said call. 

"Eleventh. Because Dr. Palmer is willing to accept the said call 
to become the pastor of said Church and congregation, from personal 
observation of that field of labor, and from a strong conviction of his 
greater adaptedness to the pulpit than to a professor's chair. 

158 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"Twelfth. Because this call to Dr. Palmer is superior in its claims 
to any previously presented to him, both on account of the natural 
affiliations of the Southern and Southwestern States, and on account 
of the relation of New Orleans to the vast Missionary territory be- 
yond it."* 

For these reasons, the commissioners prayed the Synod of 
South Carolina to receive their complaint, and take the con- 
stitutional measures to secure the reversal of the decision 
of the Presbytery of Charleston, complained of. 

These commissioners were reinforced in their complaint 
by a complaint on somewhat similar grounds by those members 
of the Presbytery, all ruling elders, constituting the minor- 
ity in opposition to the Presbytery's resolution. When the 
Synod of South Carolina met, early in November, the com- 
plainants were represented by Mr. R. C. Gilchrist, of Charles- 
ton, one of those elders. Drs. Howe and Adger represented 
the Presbytery of Charleston. Much time was given to the 
discussion, with the result that the Synod refused to sustain 
the complaint by a vote of sixty-three to nine. South Carolina 
could not easily give up her Palmer to New Orleans. The 
First Church of New Orleans had made a determined as well 
as unanimous call. The result was a staggering refusal. 

The people of that church next turned their attention to Rev. 
Nathan L. Rice, D.D. They gave him a call December 16, 
1855. Failing in this direction, and remembering Dr. Palmer's 
own imperfectly veiled desire to come to them, and learning 
that other churches were trying to move him from Columbia 
Seminary, they repeated their call March 16, 1856. 

Meanwhile the conviction had been growing in his mind 
that he should be a pastor and not a seminary professor. The 
conviction had been growing, too, that his work was in New 
Orleans. He was fast reaching that state of certainty about 
the matter that he was prepared to decide the question on 
his own responsibility, once he had the bare consent of the 
controlling powers. These assertions are borne out by the 
following letters ; and though the letters contain much matter 
besides the parts strictly pertinent to the subject under hand, 
they are presented entire, as bringing forth in salient fashion 
certain traits of the gentleman whose life and character it is 
the purpose of this work to portray. 

* Minutes of Presbytery of Charleston, Oct., 1855. 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 159 

"Columbia, S. C, June i, 1856. 

"Dear Brother Adger: Your reproachful note came to hand last 
evening, and filled me with surprise. At first I was amused, and 
thought how admirably you had succeeded in what the children some- 
times call 'making-beiieve/ But a second perusal satisfied me that you 
were serious; and then I felt a momentary resentment that you should 
allow yourself to cherish suspicions that were unworthy of you and un- 
just to me, and at the brusque manner in which you have uttered them. 
Then I thought, surely it must be only the nervous irritability of a 
man convalescing, and a return to health will restore his feelings 
to a normal condition again. There seem to be two counts in the indict- 
ment against me: first, that I did not answer your letter written some 
time ago; and second, that I have addressed no word of sympathy 
to you in all the sickness and suffering you have passed through. As 
to the first, I plead guilty at once; and if you have never without de- 
sign laid aside the letter of a friend, and postponed a reply till finally 
it has slipped from your mind, then you may blame me as freely as you 
desire, and I will meekly bear it as the punishment of my fault. I 
did receive your letter requesting an account of the emeute in the 
College, which was a long story, and asking some questions about the 
time of Presbytery's meeting, which I was unable to answer. Being 
at that time occupied in a vexatious correspondence, I simply put off 
a reply until a convenient moment. Then came several absences from 
home at Charleston and Savannah, until it was forgotten. If I had 
supposed any practical decision of yours was suspended upon an answer, 
it would have been given as much in the way of business as of friend- 
ship—but this I did not realize. I am at best an irregular and delin- 
quent correspondent, and do not even in a twelvemonth write a letter 
simply of friendship to any one: I have but once written during six 
months to my father, and that simply to announce the birth of a child. 
This is the history of that omission: let it be accepted at what it is 
worth. The point in it valuable to you, is, that it was accidental and 

"As to the second charge, I have only to say that I did not hear of 
your sickness until I heard you were better; so that I can scarcely 
be said to have felt anxious about your condition. Occasionally I 
heard that you were still improving; and supposed you were a well 
man long ago. It was not till the other day, upon accidentally meeting 
with your brother Robert on his return from Pendleton, that I learned 
the lingering character of your sickness, and that you were still feeble. 
I had supposed it was an acute attack, which early passed its crisis, 
placing you very -^oon beyond the sympathy and condolence of your 
friends. Now,, my brother, all this is a slender basis upon which to 
erect such a huge superstructure of suspicion and reproach as that 
of which your imagination has been the architect. 

I am prepared then to return categorical answers to your two sol- 

i6o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

emn questions. To the first, 'Have I offended you?' I answer, No, 
neither by word nor deed. I have never dreamed that you were not 
entirely my friend ; and every gesture atid tone of yours I have recog- 
nized as those of a kind Christian brother. To the second question, 
*Have you forgotten me, and have I become as nothing to you?' I 
simply reply that outside the circle of my kindred, my heart is knit 
to no two men in South Carolina as to Thornwell and yourself, linked 
together as you both are in all my associations, par nobile fratrum. 
And outside of the circle of your kindred, you shall find no one in 
South Carolina, or out of it, who rises superior to me in the admiration 
and respect he feels for your talents and for your character, for your 
qualities both of mind and heart; and no one who exceeds me in that 
deep and quiet affection which has its root in an unbounded confidence 
and Christian esteem. And no man has ever defended you with more 
enthusiasm from the charge of abruptness and dogmatism by adverting 
to the sterling qualities out of which these appearances seem sometimes 
to spring. Will this now suffice? Ordinarily, I could not bring my- 
self to say thus much to your face, lest you should denounce me as 
a toady ; but I say it now freely, because the occasion calls for it, and 
you have challenged it by your interrogatories. It is proof enough 
of my sincere regard for you, that I have occupied a sheet in my de- 
fence; for I do not know a half dozen men in the world to whom I 
would pen such an exculpatory letter as this. Away then forever with 
these unpleasant suspicions, which have nothing to rest upon but what 
is negative; and let the mantle of Charity cover omissions and delin- 
quencies of correspondence — and permit me to feel, as I have always 
hitherto felt, that you were a friend with whom it was not necessary 
to stand upon points, but with whom all needful things could be taken 
for granted. 

"As to the New Orleans matter, that will push me over to another 
sheet: and here I am persuaded is the real ground of your suspicion 
and doubt of me-^since in the renewed negotiations on that subject 
I have not conferred with you: a shyness, which you have interpreted 
into alienation. A word on this point. I have conferred neither with 
you, nor with anyone else, because I already know the contents of 
your mind and of the minds of all around me on this matter; and 
there was nothing more to learn — because, I was in full possession 
of all the points of the case on all sides, and in all aspects of it; and 
because I felt that at last, in the present posture of things, upon myself 
alone, upon myself unaided except from above, must rest the entire 
responsibility and pain of a decision. The time had come to ask 
counsel alone of God, and to disenthrall myself (Tf those influences 
arising from private friendship and domestic ease which would only 
make it more difficult to do right The time had come for me to con- 
fer not with flesh and blood — in spirit at least, to forsake father and 
mother, wife and children, and to ask God what I should do, with 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. i6i 

the determination to follow conscience and duty at every sacrifice of 
feeling that might be involved. To ask counsel of men, at this junc- 
ture, would only have been imbecility. Perhaps, too» I have been shy, 
at this crisis, from a constitutional weakness which makes me shrink 
from witnessing pain inflicted upon others. I cannot stand by and see 
a tooth pulled, or a child's gum cut — much less, is it easy to speak 
the words that grieve and afflict friends whom I love. Then it is that 
with all my natural communicateness, I shrink instinctively within 
my shell, and suffer more pain myself in being the occasion of pain 
and disappointment to others than it is possible for them to feel in 
the direct experience of the same. 

"The rumors that have reached you are correct. I have made up my 
mind to resign at the approaching meeting of the Board, with a view 
to accept the New Orleans call, if it shall be placed in my hands by 
the Presbytery. With the renewal of this call I have had no concern, 
and was taken as much by surprise as anyone else. Now that it has 
come, I must meet it. Had I been consulted. I should have resisted 
and refused all concurrence, as I have done in •several other cases since 
November; feeling bound by my acquiescence in the decision of Synod. 
The considerations which have controlled my decision are briefly 

"i. It is clear the Church at large does not acquiesce in my with- 
drawal from the pulpit. Since November I have been engaged in a 
laborious and annoying correspondence to frustrate and prevent calls 
from five churches in as many different cities, and without success 
in two of the five. What am I to make of these signs of acceptance 
as a preacher, just at the moment when I am ceasing to be one? 

"2. Add to this my own growing conviction that the pastoral work 
is the work for which alone, I am in a degree, fit; and in which all 
my tastes, natural and acquired, lie — and that, on the other hand, 
academic life does not suit me, as I have neither the taste nor the 
learning for it, and as a professor am only a wretched sham. 

"3. The actual and admitted importance of the New Orleans field, 
in itself considered, and in relation to the outlying territory — and the 
difficulty in securing a supply of it, arising from the perils and risks 
incurred through a removal to that city. 

"4. The fact that I feel committed in honor, by all that has passed, 
to go to New Orleans if I leave the Seminary at all, prevents me 
from considering other overtures; which yet will be pressed, so soon 
as this is disposed of. 

"5. It is certain or nearly so that the Presbytery will put the call 
into my hand when it shall be prosecuted: and the desire is strongly 
felt by most of the brethren that they should be relieved from tlie 
delicacy of their position by my assumption of the entire responsibility. 

"6. The Constitution of the Seminary requiring a six months notice 
of resignation, I must. take the initiative at this meeting of the Board. 

i62 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"7. It is but right the Electors should have time to think and confer, 
before they are precipitated upon a ballot for my successor. 

"8. I would have preferred to be entirely passive until the Presby- 
tery should have taken action, and with great reluctance do I take a 
step in advance of their action; but now that the complications of the 
case, and the interests represented on both sides, require a decision 
by me, I cannot, consistently with my own repeated declarations nor 
with the suggestions of my own conscience, decide to remain in the 
Seminary and to abandon the pastorate. I must therefore decide to 
go to New Orleans. 

"I am deeply, convinced of the importance of the Professorship of 
History in the Seminary; and my own sense of unfitness for its duties 
is a leading element in my decision — ^and I am too old to begin at 
the beginning of an Encyclopsdic Department, and go through all the 
drudgery of microscopic investigation, to be fit for an office which I 
must vacate by death as soon as the qualifications for it have been 
attained. I prefer to abide in the work to which I am trained, and in 
relation to which I have at least measured my strength. Nor am I 
insensible to the pain T must both give and feel in the rupture of my 
established and endeared relations, and I dread the months before me, 
almost as I dread death itself. I am alive to all the risks I incur in 
going among a strange people, and in stemming other currents of 
thought and feeling than those I am accustomed to. I have surveyed 
all the perils as to life of myself and family from an unfriendly climate ; 
and I know nothing in all this but to trust God with an entireness of 
consecration to his service. I have striven to search my own heart 
to learn the motives which influence: I am conscious only of a desire 
to follow God's will, to do good to man, and to glorify Him in whose 
service I am etilisted. If at last I am mistaken, lean only throw my- 
self for pardon and salvation upon Him who is infinitely merciful 
through Christ Jesus to the guilty and the erring. I have gone through 
a sea of mental suffering, such as I never felt before ; and it is a com- 
fort to me that 'all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with 
whom we have to do.' 

"Yours very truly, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

"I rejoice that you are so rapidly improving, and hope you will soon 
be perfectly restored. You will, I trust, be able to come down to the 
Board, the last of June. Salute Mrs. Adger and the children for us all." 

"G)LUMBiA, S. C, June 10, 1856. 

"Dear Brother Adger: I am glad that the personal portion of my 
letter to you has proved satisfactory; for it would have distressed me 
to know that you were permanently estranged, as the loss of your 
friendship would be to me a sore trial and calamity. Let that then 
all pass forever. 

"As to the protest you have entered on record against my decision in 

Professor in CoLUMBi>i- 'Seminary. 163 

relation to New Orleans, you need be under no apprehension that I will 
consider it either 'brusque/ 'dogmatic* or '^brti^t.' I understand thor- 
oughly the earnestness of your nature, to which great strength of con- 
viction and tenacity of purpose necessarily belong; and I am very far 
from taking unkindly any plainness, or even severity of speech, neces- 
sary to the articulate utterance of your views. The die is however now 
cast, and has therefore got beyond the reach of discussion. If the de- 
cision is erroneous, no one will pray more fervently than myself that 
God may yet, in his providence, control and reverse it, or at least over- 
rule it to his own glory. But I have reached it very patiently and pain- 
fully; and my mind rests in it with very tolerable satisfaction. If I 
had been requested to concur in raising the question anew, I would have 
refused, as I did persistently in every application that has been made 
since November. Having yielded to the decision, of the Synod, I woul4 
have no agency in the reopening of the subject. But when it was 
opened without my concurrence and against my desire, I was compelled 
to look at it as a new record on a new leaf in the book of Divine Prov- 
idence. If I have taken a step in advance of the action of the Presby- 
tery, it was with felt and expressed reluctance, as compelled thereto by 
two complications of the case, and to relieve others of a responsibility 
which they wished not to assume any longer. I have weighed every 
step thoughtfully and prayerfully ; and my conviction is strong and clear 
that I ought to be a pastor and not a professor. I have desired and 
labored to act in the whole case with a good conscience before God 
and my brethren, and I must bide the judgment of both. 

"Let me say distinctly that I neither deny, nor override the rights 
of the Presbytery. They have full jurisdiction over the case: and if 
they feel disposed to exercise their power to arrest the call, I shall not 
murmur, but submit. I shall then have reached the end of my rope 
in my efforts to follow out what I conceive to be the leadings of Prov- 
idence, and to act upon the convictions of my own mind. t 

"A word upon the implied breach of faith to Brother Thornwell. 
My consent to go into the Seminary with him was given by me with- 
out due consideration, and when my own mind had not worked itself 
out to any clear conviction on the subject. If God, in the unfoldings 
of his providence, has connected together a chain of events which seems 
to reprove that decision, and lead me to feel that I have been brought 
into a false and wrong position, I think the course of true Christian 
honor is for me to say frankly to him and to you and to all, that I erred, 
through ignorance and a fallible judgment, in. giving that consent, and 
must retrace my steps. It is not a question simply of personal sacrifice, 
but of high Christian duty; a question simply of interpretation as to 
what is the will of Thorn well's Master and my Master. I love Thorn- 
well dearly, and delight to do homage to his genius. I would willingly 
walk through life under his shadow, and contribute to his usefulness 
and comfort. But from motives of human friendship, or from a cow- 

164 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

ardly fear of reproach from mere men like myself, to turn aside from 
the path of duty and from obedience to God, cannot be thought of, no, 
not for a moment. I freely admit the possibility of mistake in the 
determination of duty — but with a conscientious desire to ascertain it, 
with a careful use of all the means to know it, and with fervent prayer 
to God for guidance and light, I do not see what remains but to rest 
in our convictions of duty, as being duty itself. 

''But it is tedious to discuss all these things with the pen. I hope you 
will be sufficiently recovered to attend the meeting of the Board on the 
24th inst. and then we can talk it over from the end to the beginning. 
As long as the matter remains inchoate. Providence can arrest it at 
any stage ; and I am sure that I am willing to be controlled by that high 
and sovereign Will which I desire above all things to obey. 

"With Christian salutations to Mrs. Adger and to all of your house- 
hold, I am, dear brother, 

"Yours as ever, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

When the Board of Directors of the Seminary met June 
24, 1856, they received a letter from Dr. Palmer resigning his 
professorship, whereupon they adopted the following minute: 

"The Board cannot consistently, with a sense of duty, present to 
the Synod the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Palmer, without expressing 
its regret that he should feel it his duty to resign his chair in this insti- 
tution. The interests of the Seminary seem to demand his continuance 
in his office, and the reasons which he assigns for resigning have all 
been deliberately considered, both by the Presbytery to which he belongs 
and by this Synod; and so far from producing in his brethren the 
conviction entertained by himself, they have had precisely the opposite 
effect. We believe that he is eminently qualified for the chair, which 
his letter shows he so highly appreciates, and we cannot but feel that 
the confidence of the Giurch in the stability of our plans and the perma- 
nence of our measures will be seriously affected, if we permit an ar- 
rangement so auspiciously begun to be interrupted before it reaches 
the point of completion. The Seminary never needed more than at 
present all that can give it efficiency and vigor. Many of the prominent 
churches of the South are either vacant or inadequately supplied, and 
the very pressure upon Dr. Palmer from all quarters for his services, 
shows the urgency of the call for a thoroughly educated ministry. 
Our Seminary must be put into a condition with the blessing of God, 
to supply this demand. This is the place in which Dr. Palmer can 
most effectually aid in relieving this great destitution. If he is per- 
mitted to leave, the insecurity attached to our organization will cripple 
the Seminary, by sending to other and less fickle institutions the young 
men who might have been prepared for our own field. The question 
before the Synod is simply the question concerning the importance of 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 165 

the Seminary. The necessity of its prosperity and success is the neces- 
sity of refusing this resignation." ■ 

The Board of Directors furthermore resolved to meet at 
Chesterville, during the next meeting of the Synod of South 
Carolina, for the purpose of inaugurating Dr. Palmer ; and that 
he "be requested to deliver an address before that body." This 
seemed to bode ill for his plan to go to New Orleans. 

When the Presbytery of Charleston met, instead of doing as 
he hoped, it referred the question as to whether the call from 
New Orleans should be put into his hands to the Synod of 
South Carolina. When tiie Synod met, a few weeks later, it 
took up the Reference, spent two afternoon sessions in dealing 
with it, — ^hearing pertinent parts of the records and the papers 
sent by the commissioners of the New Orleans Church, hearing 
Dr. Palmer himself and speakers in favor of or in opposition 
to, instructing the Presb3rtery of Charleston to put the call 
into his hands. At a late hour, a vote on a Tesolution instruct- 
ing the Presbytery "to put the call from the First Presbyterian 
Church, New Orleans" into his hands, was taken by calling the 
roll, and resulted as follows: Sixty-seven in the affirmative, 
and thirty-two in the negative. 

On the next day Dr. Palmer, whcJ was Stated Qerk, "offered 
his resignation of the office, in view of his probable removal," 
which was accepted. At a later meeting the following minute 
was unanimously adopted and ordered to be placed upon the 
records : 

"Whereas, our beloved brother, the Rev. Dr. Palmer, has felt con- 
strained, by a severe conviction of duty, to resign his professorship in 
our Seminary, and to transfer his relation to a different Synod, we de- 
sire to place upon our Minutes an enduring testimony of our high 
appreciation of his character and usefulness, and our deep regret at 
the disruption of the endearing ties which have so long united us, 
and our ardent wishes and fervent prayers that he may prove a rich 
and lasting blessing to his future field of labor. 

"Deploring, as we must continue to do, the lamented removal of this 
bright and shining light in which we have so greatly rejoiced, our grief 
is assuaged by the anticipation of the radiance it will diffuse in that 
wide and interesting region to which his labors are to be transferred. 

"In our separation from a brother so greatly beloved, the members 
of this body feel painfully the severe bereavement sustained by our 
Seminary, in the loss of one so richly endowed with those rare and 

' Minutes of the Synod of South Carolina, Appendix pp. 43 and 44. 

i66 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

precious gifts so invaluable to the training of our rising ministry. 
In this mysterious dispensation, our mourning hearts bow in humble 
submission to the Divine will. 

"As we are well assured that our brother has been governed by a 
sense of imperative duty in adopting a course which involves so great 
sacrifices, and causes so much pain to many dear friends, it is incum- 
bent on us to cheer and comfort him in his noble act of self -consecra- 
tion*. We doubt not that he can adopt the sublime language of the 
Apostle and say, 'None of these things move me, neither count I my 
life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the 
ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the Gospel 
of the grace of God.* Deeply sympathizing with this beloved brother, 
our hearts should glow with devout gratitude, that one of ourselves, 
a pupil of our own Seminary, is made capable by grace of so glorious 
a destiny, is enriched and ennobled with a faith so Apostolic and 

"Convinced, by no doubtful indications, that the Lord hath need of 
him in another sphere of usefulness, and therefore calls him away, it 
becomes the duty of this Synod, though with sorrowing hearts, to bid 
him depart and fulfill this high commission. It is our parting testi- 
mony, that he has nobly filled every department of duty and labor in 
which he has been engaged with us. Long and affectionately shall we 
remember the energy and efficiency with which he has accomplished 
his full orbed ministry among ourselves. And now, as he is entering 
an untried portion of the harvest field, our warmest affections accom- 
pany him. In every peril and difficulty, may the angel of the covenant 
preserve and comfort him! May his life and health be graciously 
continued for many years; and may his labors be crowned with special 
manifestations of the Divine favor; so that having served the Church 
faithfully, and turned many to righteousness, he may shine at last as 
the stars forever and ever." * 

Thus nobly did the noble Synod of South Carolina dis- 
miss one of her noblest sons, whom she had so longed to 
keep, to his great field of the Southwest. 

Till December he continued his services in the seminary 
and in the pulpit in Orangeburg. From the sessional records 
of his old church in Columbia, it appears that the session, 
November 17, 1856, "unanimously resolved to request Dr. 
Palmer to preach a farewell sermon to the congregation the 
next Sabbath morning.'' 

Meanwhile, during the year 1856, Dr. Palmer had been 
engaged not only in these professorial and pulpit labors, but 
had carried on a ministry of consolation unrestricted bv the 

* Minutes of the Synod of South Carolina, November, 1856, pp. 34, 35. 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 167 

limits of any small territory. This is made manifest by such 
letters as this to the Rev. Bazile E. Lanneau on the death 
of his father, Bazile Lanneau: 

**G)LUMBiA, S. C, October 9, 1856. 

"Dear Bazile: Wc were much shocked on Monday last upon taking 
a Charleston paper for Saturday in our hands, to read the notice of 
your father's death, and the invitation to his funeral. Your note, 
therefore, of Tuesday did not take us aback by surprise, as it otherwise 
would have done. I am unable just now to write you as I would like 
to do, having a painful sore upon one of my writing fingers, almost 
disabling me from the use of the pen. As soon as I can write freely 
I will try to pen a letter to your dear mother. At present I can only 
express the deep sorrow we feel in the bereavement which makes your 
home so desolate. 

"It is no ordinary affliction to lose a father and a husband : bringing 
along with the loss sustained the untying of one's domestic bonds — 
and the dissolution of home. Indeed, this loss extends far beyond the 
family circle; and the whole Christian community of Charleston will 
gather as mourners by your side and grieve for the loss incurred by 
the Church of Christ on earth; yet — 'Even so. Father, for so it seemed 
good in thy sight.' 

"It would be superfluous to exhort any of you to patience and sub- 
mission, for I doubt not you have already united in saying, The Lord 
gave and the Lord hath taken away : Blessed be the name of the Lord.' 
While nature will have her pangs and wring her tribute of tears and 
grief, you have still so many materials of praise and song that you 
must mingle thanksgiving and mourning. His pure life, his unstained 
character, his long devotion to his Master's cause and Church, his 
pious counsels, and his fervent prayers, his faith and patience and hope 
— all meeting together in his dying moments : all these will be objects 
of memory to stay your sorrow and sustain you from despondency 
and gloom. If, too, the Church below has lost, the Church above has 
gained. It is only a transfer from one to the other, and the Church is 
not a loser, though we may miss him much. 

"I am glad to hear of your mother's calmness and peace, though it 
does not surprise. It is what I should expect of her. May the Com- 
forter draw nigh to her and uphold her faith with abounding consola- 
tions ! 

"Affectionately yours, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

In the course of the year 1856 he took part in the installation 
of his father as pastor of the Stony Creek Church in Beaufort 
District. Of the incident he published, in the Southern Pres- 
byterian, though not over his own name, a graceful and instruc- 

i68 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

tive account which, with one or two unimportant omissions, is 

"The sermon appointed for die occasion was preached by the Rev. 
B. M. Palmer, son of die pastor elect ; die charge to the pastor was de- 
livered by the Rev. J. L. Kirkpatrick, and that to the people by the 
Rev. J. L. Girardeau. In addition to these services there was preaching 
on Friday, Saturday and Monday, which was attended by large and at- 
tentive congregations. The exercises were held at McPhersonville, 
the summer quarters of the congregation, where they have a neat house 
of worship, a convenient parsonage, schools and other appendages of 
a pleasant Christian commtmity. 

"The Stony Creek Church is one of the oldest and most prosperous 
of the churches in the seaboard region of our State. Although Pres- 
byterian in its doctrines and internal structure, and supplied by minis- 
ters of our communion, it has not, tmtil recently, had any formal con- 
nection with any Presbytery. 

"About two years ago, overtures were made to it by the Charleston 
Presbytery to become a component part of that body, which were 
met and acceded to in a spirit of Christian affection and confidence. 
Owing to its former position of independence, the above was the first 
installation service held in the church. The occasion itself was, there- 
fore, one of more than ordinary interest We trust the impression 
is altogether favorable. 

"At the time the church came into union with the Presbytery, our 
esteemed brother, the Rev. J. B. Dunwody, was its minister. Soon 
after, his health having failed, he resigned his charge, and the members 
of the congregation found their hearts turning with affectionate desire 
to the Rev. £. Palmer, who had in former times, for a period of thir- 
teen years, served them with great acceptance in the Gospel of their 
Lord. Him, though now approaching the verge of three score and ten 
years — ^an age when most men are unfit for active labor, when most 
churches shrink from calling a minister, whether fit or unfit for further 
work — they invited him to return to them, to live with them while life 
should last, and die and be buried among them when the hour shall 
come. It was a call he could not resist, and the rare spectacle was 
presented of a minister, sixty-eight years of age, entering as if anew 
upon the great work to which a long life had already been laboriously 
and unremittedly devoted. 

"Mr. Palmer, however, retains beyond any man of his age we are 
acquainted with the vigor and elasticity of body, and the genial warmth 
and freshness qf temperment, that are supposed to belong exclusively 
to youth. His term of service in the new sphere may yet, through a 
good providence, exceed that usually allotted to men who enter upon 
theirs in middle life. 

"In consequence of the loss by immigration the congregation of whites 
is not as large at Stony Creek Church as in former years. There has 

Professor in Columbia Seminary. 169 

been, however, a corresponding increase in the number of blacks; and 
among these the pastor finds a wide field for labor. He loves to preach 
the blessed Gospel of Christ to these precious souls, who claim and 
receive a large measure of his time and strength. May his labors for 
the spiritual welfare of both classes be abundantly successful." 

We have now followed our subject through the preliminary 
and preparatory stages of his life. We have seen him through- 
out a vigorous and prolonged course of training. He has de- 
veloped well his brain, tongue, and pen, and all his splendid 
natural endowments ; and so fitted himself to take a great part 
in the life of a great city and a vast section. He was to become 
in the new and larger arena not only a gjeat religious leader, 
but in epochal movements the moral and political mouthpiece 
of the city. State, and section of his adoption. He was to be 
the leader of patriots, "the first citizen of Louisiana." He was 
to be "the public conscience," on moral matters the mouthpiece 
of God unto vast multitudes even of faiths differing widely 
from his own. Still he was to tower as a Qiristian minister 
higher than in any other role. 



(December, 1856 — May, 1861.) 

The Dr. Pa|.mer of December, 1856. — ^The New Sphere into which 
He went: The Southwest; New Orleans; and the First Pres- 
byterian Church. — The Beginnings in His New Pastorate. — 
His Work as a Preacher and Teacher during this Period.— 
His Skill in Dealing Individually with Men. — His Work as 
A Pastor. — Bearing as a Member of the Session. — Care of the 
Negroes. — Efforts to Secure the Spread of Presbyterian ism in 
the City. — Labors in Behalf of the Church at Large. — Writ- 
ings. — Occasional Sermons and Addresses. 

THE man who left Columbia, S. C, in early December, 
1856, to become the pastor of the First Presbyter- 
ian Church, was a striking looking man to a close observer. 
The superficial said, "He is an insignificant looking little fel- 
low." He was rather under medium height, slender, agile as 
a cat, naturally as graceful as a leopard, simply but elegantly 
clad from his dainty little foot to the crown of his head. 
His abundant dark brown hair, cropped just below the ears, 
was thrown loosely back from no meanly shaped forehead. 
His piercing hazel eyes twinkled as he gazed penetratingly 
into your face. His nose was suggestive of discrimination, 
fastidiousness, and secretiveness ; his huge mouth, when still, 
was clamped by strong jaws; his large lips were very mobile 
in speech. So strong was his chin that some observers were 
tempted to call him "dish-faced." He made a strong impression 
of alertness, and of indefinite reserve power. He made the 
impression of great kindness of heart and unobtrusive read- 
iness to help his fellow men, whatever their relations. 

Even to the shrewd and experienced observer, however, 
the casket in this case hardly appeared to be an adequate adver- 
tisement of the jewel within. The Presbyterians of New Or- 
leans and the Southwest, in getting Dr. Palmer, got one of 
the first minds, and perhaps the first orator, of his day, in the 
great communion to which he belonged. They got him in 
his early prime. He had passed through the period of raw 
and callow youth in his brief pastorate at Savannah and in the 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 171 

longer one at Columbia. Had he not been assiduous in the cul- 
tivation of his talents during those earlier pastorates, he had 
not been the man he was when he entered New Orleans. Per- 
haps he had never entered the city into which he now came. 
But pastorates and professorship had been extended university 
and seminary courses for him. He had given his splendid 
natural powers a splendid discipline. He had applied old ac- 
quisitions, he had been daily adding new acquisitions to the old, 
and applying and testing all. He was near to forty, thirty- 
eight, — but the period of achievement was just to begin. 

The commissioners from the First Presbyterian Church 
in New Orleans had pressed the fact that the great South- 
west, of which New Orleans was the metropolis, needed him 
there. The Southwest did need him. Newly acquired and im- 
perial Texas needed him. The Indian Territory, Arkansas, 
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee needed him 
in the common beating heart of them all. They were all in 
the nascent state and needed such a man in New Orleans to 
help mould their coming civilizations for right and for God. 
He was wonderfully adapted to serve them in his new post. 
Aside from his commanding gifts and acquirements, he was a 
son of that South Carolina who had had so large a hand in 
mothering all the States just named, and had imposed her views 
on manners and government, so widely amongst them. When 
he went to them, he simply went into that greater South Caro- 
lina, — went amongst people, who in spite of very considerable 
differences, were substantially at one with South Carolina in re- 
gard to social and civil matters. His great sphere of influence 
was still within the South Carolina belt. Thus by the 
South Carolina spirit and character as well as by his singular 
and extraordinary endowments he was most happily adapted 
to labor in this quarter. 

The State of Louisiana, as indeed some of the others, had 
not a little in its civilization to differentiate it from that of 
South Carolina. It had been settled by the French in 1682; 
and for upwards of four score years the French gave character 
to its civilization. Between 1762 and 1766 the territory passed 
to the possession of Spain, much to the chagrin of the colo- 
nists. During the last three and a quarter decades of the 
eighteenth century, Spain was making her contribution to the 
civilization already established. In 1801 the country was re- 
troceded to France. In 1803 the United States purchased the 

172 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

country, together with the whole vast territory to the north- 
west and lying westward from the Mississippi River, paying to 
France eighty millions of francs therefor. Meanwhile immi- 
grants had been coming in from other sources, principally Ger- 
man and American; and after the purchase, Americans from 
the New England and the Eastern States, and especially from 
the Southern States flocked into the land. The population be- 
came cosmopolitan. The civilizations of the Latin European 
peoples and of the North Europeans were brought together, 
and produced a type not exactly paralleled in any of the sister 
States. The Latin civilization in both French and Spanish 
forms had been first on the ground and long remained the dom- 
inating factor. It furnished the code of laws, a modification 
and adaptation of the Code Napoleon, which the State has 
retained and applies down to this day. It furnished the domi- 
nant religion also, in Roman Catholicism, which up to the Am- 
erican purchase was the established j-elig^on. In these partic- 
ulars are found differentiating marks of Louisiana civilization ; 
others might be pointed out. The Louisiana type of Romanism 
had never been fanatical, it is true; the people had opposed, 
with horror and defiance, the attempt made during the Spanish 
regime, to institute the Spanish Inquisition amongst them ; nor 
had they been wanting in a more positive sort of liberality. 
The modified Code Napoleon was a very superior system. 
The peculiarities of the Louisiana civilization demanded, in- 
deed, of the minister who should go from elsewhere to labor in 
the Delta State, no small tact and a certain generous breadth 
of sympathies. These Dr. Palmer possessed in an unusual de- 
gree. He inherited them from his mother and from his mother 

Moreover, in his possession of South Carolina courtesy, 
the South Carolina sense of honor in its noblest and Christian 
form, the South Carolina magnification of the rights of the 
State, and the South Carolina views of slavery, he was pecu- 
liarly fitted to accomplish a great work. In Louisiana, with 
all its peculiarities, he was still within the zone in which South 
Carolina theories prevailed. 

The commercial heart of the Southwest and still more of 
Louisiana was New Orleans, where the people of his faith 
had risen and, like the man in the Macedonian vision which 
Paul saw, had cried, "Come over and help us." This city had 
been founded in 1718, by Jean Baptiste Lemoyne de Bienville, 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 173 

a French Canadian, Governor of the French colony which in 
1699 had been planted by his brother D'Iberville on the shores 
of the Gulf, along the eastern margin of the Bay of Biloxi. 

The colony of Biloxi had grown but slowly. Bienville's 
new colony had made better progress ; and in 1803, when the 
territory passed into political connection with the United 
States, its population numbered 10,000, being made up mostly 
of French Creoles and their slaves. The influx of American 
immigrants after the Purchase was very great. The dream of 
LaSalle, that by commanding the Mississippi River Frenchmen 
might command the commerce of China which he supposed 
would flow down the newly discovered channel, had been aban- 
doned ; but men believed in the vast promise of New Orleans. 
The Sage of Monticello, had predicted on purchasing Louis- 
iana, that New Orleans would become "not only the greatest 
commercial city in America, but in the world;" and he gave 
very good reasons for the prediction. He pointed out; for in- 
stance, that it was the natural port of the Mississippi Valley, 
which he foresaw was to become "the seat of a gjeat and popu- 
lous empire, and that all the varied products of that valley 
would find their way to New Orleans by a thousand streams ; 
while in the South lay Mexico, Cuba, and the tropics." ^ The 
city sat at the gateway of the Continent and seemed the best 
place to handle the immense trade that must spring up between 
the Mississippi Valley and the tropics on the one hand, and 
Europe on the other. Between 1830 and 1840, no other city 
in the United States kept pace with this one in growth. When 
the census of 1840 was taken, it was found to be the fourth city 
in population, exceeded only by New York, Philadelphia and 
Baltimore. It also stood "fourth amongst all the ports of the 
world, with only London, Liverpool and New York ahead." 
It was even ahead of New York in the export of domestic 

The prosperity of New Orleans, which appeared inevitable 
in view of her natural advantages received three mighty blows : 
the building of the Erie Canal which furnished a cheap north- 
em route from the great Northwest to the Eastern markets; 
the invention by Stephenson of the steam locomotive, and the 
building of railways, which annihilated the supreme importance 
of water-ways for commercial purposes ; and the war between 

* Norman Walker, in Richtor's History of New Orleans. 

1/4 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the sections. This last, coming soon after Dr. Palmer's trans- 
lation to New Orleans, gave the city a blow so terrific that 
she had to lay her foundations of business prosperity all over 
again. The other two forces had been put into operation prior 
to his call to the city. But their potencies had been fully esti- 
mated neither by the people of New Orleans themselves nor 
by others. If trade with the Northwest had dropped oif the 
trade in the South and Southwest was constantly growing, and 
so fast that New Orleans became increasingly busy and pros- 
perous. The decade ending at the outbreak of the war saw 
New Orleans enjoying a vast commercial prosperity, canals and 
trans-Appalachian railways, nevertheless. More than half the 
time during this decade, "it exceeded Manhattan in the volume 
of its exports.'' 

Though too slow in securing railroads, and thus losing 
the place which, in view of her natural advantages, should 
have bfeen hers; though suffering and to suffer until Eads 
should do his work at the mouth of the Mississippi for an exit 
to the sea of sufficient depth for vessels of the heaviest 
draught, New Orleans was in 1856 a city of vast power and 
vaster possibilities and promise. Even if not so gjeat a 
field as was commonly thought, it was nevertheless a great 
field, a field of abounding and widening opportunity. In ad- 
dition to the people of his flock he would there preach for . 
considerable portions of the year to great numbers of planters 
and merchants from the central and southwestern portions of 
the great Mississippi Valley. He would preach to travelers 
and sojourners. His influence would be of the very widest. 
Loving all men, he would be tactful in dealing with all. To the 
large Hebrew population he would be as an Hebrew if per- 
chance he might win some to Christ. To the Romanist he 
would show all the consideration consistent with his calling 
as a Christian and a minister. Gentle Creole or unwashed 
Dago, he would win them all by Christian courtesy and be- 

Of the church in New Orleans which Dr. Palmer undertook 
to serve in things spiritual, he has left the following historical 
account reaching down to the day when he took charge of it: 

2 n 

It is a little remarkable that the first successful effort to plant 

' This account was read by him at the Semi-Centenary Anniversary 
of Presbyterianism in New Orleans, November 23, 1873. 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 175 

Presbyterianism in the city of New Orleans should have originated 
with the Congregationalists of New England. Near the beginning of 
the year 1817, the Rev. Elias Cornelius was appointed by the Connecti- 
cut Missionary Society to engage in a Missionary tour through the 
Southwestern States, more especially to visit New Orleans, then con- 
taining a population of thirty to thirty-four thousand, and with but 
one Protestant minister, the Rev. Dr. Hull; to examine into its moral 
condition, and while preaching the Gospel to many who seldom heard 
it, to invite the friends of the Congregational or Presbyterian Commun- 
ion to establish a Church, and to secure an able and faithful pastor. 
In this tour. Dr. Cornelius acted also as agent for the A. B. C. F. M., 
to solicit funds for the evangelization of the Indian tribes. In this 
work he was eminently successful, devoting an entire year to a 
lengthened tour from Massachusetts to Louisiana, collecting large sums 
for the American Board, and arrived in New Orleans on the 30th of 
December, 181 7. 

"The most important service rendered by Dr. Cornelius, however, 
was that of introducing the Rev. Sylvester Larned to this fielfl of labor. 
In passing through New Jersey, on his journey southward. Dr. Cor- 
nelius formed the acquaintance of Mr. Larned, then finishing his 
divinity course at Princeton, and giving, in the reputation acquired 
as a student, brilliant promise of a successful career as a preacher. 
The arrangement was there formed between the two, that Mr. Larned 
should follow Dr. Cornelius to New Orleans, after he should have 
passed his trials, and should have been admitted to the ministry. 

"On the 15th of July, 1817, Mr. Larned was licensed and ordained by 
the Presbytery of New York. This ordination was clearly to the office 
of evangelist, which he was in the fullest sense of the word. It ap- 
pears, too, that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church was 
brought into cooperation with this scheme; from the fact that Drs. 
Nott and Romeyn were appointed by that body to accompany Mr. 
Larned to the Southwest. This appointment was not, however, ful- 
filled, and we find the young evangelist, after a brief visit to his native 
home, leaving on the 26th of September, and journeying alone to the 
field where he was to gather the laurels of an unfading reputation, 
and then to sanctify it by an early death. He reached his destination, 
after innumerable delays, on the 22nd of January, 1818. 

"Through the antecedent preparation of his friend. Dr. Cornelius, 
who had preceded him exactly three weeks, and still more by his own 
splendid attractions, overtures were soon made to him for a permanent 
settlement Subscriptions were circulated for the building of a church 
edifice, which by the 5th of April amounted to $16,000. It was pro- 
posed, as soon as the subscriptions were completed, to negotiate a loan 
of $40,000, the estimated cost of a building sixty feet by ninety, with 
about 2,000 sittings. Considering the infancy of the enterprise, the 
largeness of these plans betokens great vigor of effort, and the confi- 

176 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

dence felt of final success in collecting and maintaining a flourishing 
church. In this costly undertaking, generous assistance was received 
from the city Council in the grant of two lots of ground, valued at 
$6,000 and in a subsequent loan of $10,000. In the erection of the 
building, Mr. Larned's spiritual labors were interrupted during the 
summer of 1818 by a visit North, for the purpose of soliciting money, 
and also of purchasing materials for building. 

"On the 8th of January, 1819, the cornerstone of the new edifice was 
laid with imposing ceremonies (and in the presence of an immense 
throng), on the selected site on St. Charles Street, between Gravier 
and Union, and on the 4th of July following, was solemnly dedicated 
to the worship of Almighty God, with a discourse from Psalm 48:9, 
*We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy 
temple,' which will be found the fourth in the series of sermons pub- 
lished in connection with Mr. Lamed's 'Memoirs.' 

"There are no records from which to learn the spiritual growth of 
the church during this early period, except that in one of his letters, 
Mr. Larned speaks of a communion s^son, about the middle of July, 
1820, in which there were forty-two at the table of the Lord, part of 
whom were, however, Methodists. Mr. Larned's labors were those 
exclusively of an evangelist; and his brief life was spent in gathering 
a congregation and building a house of worship. There is no record 
of his having organized a church according to our ecclesiastical canons, 
by the election and ordination of ruling elders; and he himself was 
never installed into the pastoral relation by ecclesiastical authority. 
It pleased the Great Head of the Church to arrest his labors before they 
reached this point of consummation. During the month of August, 

1820, the scourge which has so often desolated our city made its ap- 
pearance. On the Sabbath, August 27, he preached from Phil, i : 21 : 
*For me to Hve is Christ, and to die is gain:' words alas! prophetic 
of his speedy call to those mansions Vhere all is gain' — forever to 
the believer. On the following Thursday, August 31st, the very 
day on which he completed the 24th year of his age, he fell asleep in 
Jesus, or rather awoke to the glory and joy of his Lord. His remains 
were consigned to the tomb in Girod Cemetery, with the Episcopal 
service for the dead rendered by the Rev. Dr. Hull. 

"Mr. Larned's successor, after an interval of eighteen months, was 
the Rev. Theodore Clapp, a native of Massachusetts, and a graduate of 
Yale College and of the Theological Seminary at Andover. He was 
licensed by a Congregational Association, October, 18 17, and was led 
providentially to Kentucky, by an engagement as private tutor in a 
family residing near Lexington, in that State. During the summer of 

1821, he spent a few weeks at a watering place in Kentucky and on the 
Sabbath preached in one of the public rooms of the hotel to the as- 
sembled guests. This apparently casual circumstance led to his settle- 
ment in New Orleans. Amongst his hearers on that occasion were 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 177 

two gentlemen from our city, trustees of Mr. Lamed's Church; wjio, 
upon their return home, caused a letter to be written, inviting him to 
New Orleans. This invitation, at first declined, led to a visit to this 
city near the close of February, 1822. 

'"On the third Sabbath after his arrival, he was unanimously chosen 
to fill the vacant pulpit Finding the church embarrassed by a debt 
of $45,000, he naturally hesitated and finally made its liquidation the 
condition of his acceptance of the call. The method adopted for this 
purpose, though deemed proper at the time, would now be disallowed 
by the better educated conscience of the Church. The trustees made 
application to the Legislature of Louisiana, then in session, for a 
lottery; which being sold to Yates & Mclntyre, of New York, for 
$25,000, relieved the pressure of debt to that amount. For the remain- 
ing $20,000 the building was sold to Judah Touro, Esq., a merchant of 
wealth, whose magnificent charities have left his name in grateful 
remembrance to the people of New Orleans. It may be well to state 
here, though a little in advance of dates, that Mr. Touro held the build- 
ing to the time of its destruction by fire; allowing the income from 
pew rents to the use of the minister, and incurring the expense of 
keeping it in repair. He was Mr. Clapp's personal friend and bene- 
factor throughout life; and when the original building was burnt, and 
long after it had been carried away from Presbjrterianism by Mr. 
Clapp's secession, Mr. Touro, we believe, built a small chapel for the 
Unitarian Congregation, until a larger edifice could be erected for their 
accommodation. Such instances of princely munificence deserve to be 
engraved on tables of marble. But this is to anticipate. 

"The first notice of the organization of this church, as a spiritual 
body, is in the record of a meeting held for this purpose on the 23rd 
of November, 1823. Prior to this, the labors of Mr. Lamed, extending 
over a period of two years and seven months, from January 22, 1818, 
to August 31, 1820; and those of Mr. Clapp over a period of one year 
and nine months, from March, 1822, to November, 1823, were simply 
evangelistic. A congregation had been gathered, a house of worship 
built, the word and sacraments administered, and the materials col- 
lected for the spiritual church in the admission of persons to sealing 
ordinances, all in the exercise of that power which the Scriptures and 
our Presbyterian Standards assign to the evangelist. The time had 
now arrived for gathering up the results of these labors in a permanent 
and organized form. 

"On the evening of November 23, 1823, just fifty years ago, at a 
meeting moderated by Rev. Mr. Clapp, nine males and fifteen females 
presented credentials of having been admitted to the Sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper, by Mr. Lamed, as follows: 

"Males. — Alfred Hennen, James Robinson, William Ross, Rob't. H. 
McNair, Moses Cox, Hugh Farrie, Richard Pearse, John Spittal, John 

178 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"Females. — Phoebe Farrie, Catherine Hearsey, Celeste Hearsey, Dora 
A. Hearsey, Margaret Agur, Ann Ross, Eliza Hill, Margaret McNair, 
Sarah Ann Harper, Ann Davison, Stella Mercer, Jane Robinson, Eliza 
Baldwin, Mary Porter, Eliza Davidson. 

'These persons, twenty-four in all, were formed into a church, by 
the adoption of the Presbyterian Standards in doctrine, government, 
discipline,- and worship, and by a petition to the Presbytery of Mis- 
sissippi, to be enrolled among the churches under its care, with the 
style and title of The First Presbyterian Church in the City and 
Parish of New Orleans.' The organization was completed by the 
election on the same evening of four persons to be ruling elders, viz: 
William Ross, Moses Cox, James Robinson and Robert H. McNair, 
who were accordingly ordained and installed on the following Sabbath, 
November 30, 1823. 

"Mr. Clapp's ministry was a troubled one, from suspicions entertained 
of his doctrinal soundness. From his own statements, as early as 1824 
his faith was shaken as to the doctrine of the eternity of future pun- 
ishment. He pushed his fnvestigations, doubts darkening upon him, 
through years, until at length he was forced to plant himself in open 
hostility to the whole Calvinistic Theology. It is not strange that 
inconsistent and wavering statements of truth should find their 
way into the ministrations of the pulpit, at the very time his faith was 
shaken in the tenets which he had subscribed, and when his own mind 
was working to an entire renunciation of them. A single crack in 
a bell is sufficient to destroy its tone ; and it is not surprising that some 
of his parishioners should miss that clear ring which the pulpit is ex- 
pected to give forth. Certain it is, that the repose of the Church was 
seriously disturbed for years by two parallel prosecutions before the 
session against two prominent members of the Church, one of them 
a ruling elder, grounded upon their undisguised dissatisfaction with the 
minister. In the course of these complicated proceedings, the session, 
by death and deposition from offices, became reduced below a consti- 
tutional quorum; which led in March, 1828, to the election and ordi- 
nation of five new elders : Alfred Hennen, Joseph A. Maybin, Wm. W. 
Caldwell, Josiah Crocker and Fabricius Reynolds. 

"On the fifth of March, 1830, Mr. Clapp addressed a letter to the 
Presbytery of Mississippi, in which he says: *I have not found, and at 
present despair of finding, any text of Holy Writ to prove unanswer- 
ably the distinguishing tenets of Calvinism.' He therefore solicited 
a dismission from the Presbytery to the Hampshire County Association 
of Congregational Ministers in the State of Massachusetts. This dis- 
mission was refused by the Presbytery, on the ground that it was incon- 
sistent to dismiss, in good standing, to another body one whom they 
could no longer recognize in their own; and they proceeded to declare 
Mr. Clapp no longer a member of their body, or a minister in the 
Presbyterian Church. A letter was also addressed to the church ad- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 179 

vising them of this action, and declaring the pulpit vacant. No definite 
action was taken upon this communication of the Presbytery until 
January, 183 1, when the session proposed to take mind of the church, 
whether to retain Mr. Clapp as their pastor, or to abide by the de- 
cision of the Presbytery and to sever that connection. This sifting 
process was, however, arrested by an exception taken against this action 
and against the Presbyterian decree upon which it was based. By 
common consent, the case was carried over the intermediate court im- 
mediately to the General Assembly, which body sustained the exception, 
declaring, 'that as Mr. Clapp had neither been dismissed nor sus- 
pended by the Presbytery, he ought to be regarded as a member of 
that body, and that in the opinion of the Assembly, they have sufficient 
reasons for proceeding to try him upon the charge of error in doctrine.' 

"The case being thus remanded to the Presbjrtery had to be taken up 
anew. Meanwhile the agitation in the bosom of the church could not 
be allayed. On the 13th of January, 1832, fifteen members, including 
elders McNair and Gildwell, were dismissed at their request, for the 
purpose of forming another church upon the principles of the doctrine 
and discipline of the Presbyterian Church. This seceding body wor- 
shipped in a warehouse of Mr. Cornelius Paulding, opposite Lafayette 
Square, on the site covered by the building in which we are now as- 
sembled. It enjoyed the services of the Rev. Mr. Harris; but the ref- 
erences to it are scant and after a brief and flickering existence, its ele- 
ments were reabsorbed into the First Church. Meanwhile the Presby- 
tery concluded its proceedings in the trial of Mr. Clapp, on the loth 
of January, 1833 ; when he was deposed from the office of the ministry, 
and his relations to the church, which had only been those of a Stated 
Supply and not of an installed pastor, were finally cancelled. The roll 
of communicants, just before the secession of 1832, numbered eighty- 

"Presbyterianism had now to start anew, from a beginning quite as 
small as at first. The social and amiable qualities of Mr. Clapp en- 
deared him greatly as a man; the large majority of his hearers could 
not appreciate this clamor about doctrine; and many of the truly pious 
were slow to credit the extent of his departure from the faith, and 
were disposed to sympathize with him as one unkindly persecuted. 
The few, therefore, who came forth, exactly nine, with the two elders, 
Hennen and Maybin, found themselves in the condition of seceders 
who were houseless in the streets. Fortunately a spiritual guide was 
immediately provided. The Rev. Dr. Joel Parker, in the service of the 
American Home Mission Society, being in the city, was at once solicited 
to become their Stated Supply. His connection began January 12, 1833, 
and the little band worshipped alternately with the organism formed a , 
year before under Mr. Harris, in the wareroom on Lafayette Square. 
These two wings finally coalesced in 1835. In March, 1834, Dr. Parker 
was unanimously chosen pastor, and on the 27th of April, was duly 

i8o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

installed by the Presbytery of Mississippi. During this summer he 
was absent at the North, collecting funds for building a new House 
of Worship. Some statements made by him to Northern audiences 
respecting the religious conditions and necessities of New Orleans 
were grossly misrepresented in the public prints. A violent excitement 
was created against him in the city, indignation meetings were held, 
and he was once or twice burnt in effigy by the population. The storm 
was met with great firmness and dignity by the church, which rallied 
around its pastor, produced written evidence that Dr. Parker had been 
entirely misrepresented, and contended earnestly for the exercise of 
their own religious rights. In a short time the fierce opposition was 
quelled, and was eventually lived down. 

"Upon the pastor's return in the autumn, worship was resumed in a 
room on Julia Street, until March 15, 1835, when the basement of the 
new building on Lafayette Square was first occupied. This edifice, so 
well remembered by many present, was erected at an original cost, 
including the site, of $57,616. Subsequently improvements and enlarge- 
ments were made in 1844, with an additional purchase of ground, 
amounting to over $17,000 more; making the whole cost of the church, 
which was destroyed by fire in 1854, $75,000. 

"Dr. Parker's connection with the church extended over a period of 
five years and six months, from January 12, 1833, to June 14, 1838, 
at which date he left, never to return. The pastoral relation was not, 
however, dissolved till the spring of 1839. During his pastorship, the 
church was greatly prospered, having secured a commodious sanctuary, 
and showing as early as 1836, a church roll numbering 142 communi- 
cants. There were two elections of elders : in 1834, Dr. John R. Moore, 
Frederick R. Southmayd and Truman Parmele being chosen to that 
office; and in 1838, Stephen Franklin, John S. Walton and James 

"The next incumbent of the pulpit was the Rev. Dr. John Brecken- 
ridge, with whom the church opened negotiations in February, 1839. 
This gentleman was at the time the Secretary of the Assembly's Board 
of Foreign Missions. In his letter to the church, dated May, 1839, 
he consents to serve it in conjunction with his secretaryship, from which 
his brethren were unwilling to release him, the Board giving him a 
dispensation of six or seven months for this purpose. These conditions 
being accepted. Dr. Breckenridge spent the winter of 1839, in New Or- 
lenas; and still again the winter of 1840 till April of 1841. He was 
called to the eternal rest in August of 1841, retaining in his hand the 
call of this church as pastor elect. His labors were fragmentary, 
but efficient ; and the church was left to mourn over hopes disappointed 
.in his death. 

"The attention of the church was soon turned to Rev. Dr. Wm. A. 
Scott, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who was installed as pastor on the 19th of 
March, 1843, and whose pastoral relation was formally dissolved in 


Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. i8i 

September, 1855. His active connection with the church, however, 
began and closed earlier than these dates. His term of service as 
pastor-elect began in the fall of 1842, and his active labors ceased in 
November, 1854, covering a period of twelve years. Dr. Scott's min- 
istry was exceedingly productive, during which vigorous and constant 
efforts were made to build up the interests of Presbyterianism in the 
city. The roll of communicants swelled in 1844 to 439, and before the 
close of his ministry to 600. 

"On the 20th of July, 1845, Dr. J. M. W. Picton and Chas. Gardiner 
were ordained to the office of ruling elders; and Thomas Bowman 
and William P. Campbell, to that of deacon. On the 23d of December, 
1849, R. B. Shepherd, W. P. Campbell and W. A. Bartlett were or- 
dained to the Eldership ; and W. H. Reese, L. L., Brown and James 
Rainey, to the diaconate; and on the 28th of November, 1852, the 
Bench of Deacons was increased by the installation of W. C. Black, 
Robt. A. Grinnan and Simon Devisser — and of J. G. Dunlap on the 
23d of January, 1853. 

"The church edifice was burnt on the 29th of October, 1854; and it is 
to the last degree creditable to the congregation that among all the 
discouragements of a vacant Bishopric and a congregation scattered, it 
should have proceeded at once to build another of larger proportions 
and more finished in style. In 1857 the house in which we are 
now assembled was finished and dedicated to the worship of God. Its 
cost with all its appointments was about $87,000. 

"On the 21 st of September, 1854, a call was made out to the Rev. 
B. M. Palmer, of South Carolina, which upon being presented before 
his Presbytery and Synod was defeated by the refusal of those bodies 
to place it in his hands. The call was renewed on the i6th of March, 
1856, and prevailed. His labors began early in December of that year, 
and on the 28th of the same month he was installed by the Presbytery 
of New Orleans. After a lapse of seventeen years, he is present to- 
night to read this record of God's exceeding faithfulness and mercy to 
his redeemed people. It is only proper to add, that the membership 
of this church, which, after Dr. Scott's withdrawal was thrown down 
to 350, was carried up in 1861, just before the war, to 531. By the war 
in 1866, it was again reduced to 436, and now reaches to 648. 

"Three successful Mission Schools are sustained and two buildings 
erected for their accommodation, one of these large and comfortable, 
at a cost of some $10,000. It is now sustaining a City Missionary, 
which it has often done in the past, and always with marked results 
in the extension of the cause so dear to all our hearts." 

In the church thus described he began his labors as early 
as December 9, 1856. On the nineteenth day of the month 
he was received into the Presbytery of New Orleans. The 
Presbytery at once arranged for his installation at 3 p.m., 


i82 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

December 28, 1856. At the installation services the Rev. J. R. 
Hutchinson, Moderator of the Presbytery, preached from Rom. 
II : 13, "I magnify mine office," on "The Dignity and Impor- 
tance of the Ministerial Office," a topic which the candidate for 
installation was to illustrate in a most remarkable way. 

In a few months it was his privilege to preach a sermon 
dedicatory of the new church building — z most imposing edi- 
fice of the Gothic type of architecture, with an audience room 
capable of seating from fifteen hundred to two thousand 
people. He made use of the sermon he had preached at the 
dedication of the church built by him in Columbia ;. in which he 
set for himself again, as well as for his people, a high ideal 
in worship. 

Dr. Palmer was now in a new field. It was quite possible 
for him to relax his efforts in the construction of sermons. 
He had accumulated a large stock of briefs. We, indeed find 
that he is not insensible to the fact ; find that he uses some of 
his best old sermons — some of them the products of his youth- 
ful labors at Savannah, and more of them made in Columbia ; 
but we find no sign of relaxation, old briefs are reworked, 
if used, and take nobler forms ; and new ones are added to hi$ 
stores week after week. Some of these new ones he liked very 
much apparently. When he travelled they went with him; 
and other congregations than his own heard them. A study 
of these briefs shows that he continued to preach the Gospel 
and the whole Gospel ; and that, ^xcept in one or two instances, 
he preached nothing but the Gospel. 

He had captured the people of his church with his first 
sermon to them. He speedily and mightily confirmed his do- 
minion over them during the early months of his ministry — a 
dominion that was to be regal thence to his death and even 
after his death. As the weeks and months passed, his sphere 
widened beyond the limits of his own congregation and of his 
own church. A multitude scattered throughout the city and 
the sphere of its influence developed an interest in his preach- 
ing. This is evidenced by the reproduction of not a few of 
his sermons in secular newspapers. A portion of the New Or- 
leans press at that date showed a most commendable readiness 
to open their columns to sermons of a high order of instruc- 
tiveness. A visit to the New Orleans City Archives and a 
glance at the great dailies of the years 1857 to 1861 will enable 
one to read some of Dr. Palmer's sermons in full; and com- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 183 

pendious reports of many others. They were not published 
because they were in any way sensational. They are noble di- 
dactic discourses. 

His teaching was not confined to preaching on the Sab- 
bath and lecturing on Wednesday evenings to his prayer meet- 
ing. On two other week-day evenings he lectured to special 
classes organized for the study of the Bible. 

His individual dealing with those who sought his spiritual 
counsel was marked by wonderful power of diagnosis, by 
equally wonderful facility in pointing them to the very truths 
needed, and by the tactful but courageous and resolute appli- 
cation of the truth. Let an account of his dealing with an 
inebriate serve to illustrate his skill in dealing with individ- 
uals.* He told the story as follows, in 1869: 

"I was seated one Friday evening in my parlor, enjoying the society 
of a few friends by the family fire-place, when the door-bell rang, 
with a hesitating sound, as if touched by a weak or a trembling hand. 
Obeying the summons myself, without waiting for a servant, the dim 
light of the street revealed a stranger, who addressed me thus: 

** *I presume you are the Rev. , If so I would be glad to speak 

to you alone, in your study.' 

"Ushering him upstairs into the little back room, where, each week, 
the olive oil is beaten for the lamps of the sanctuary, the lighted gas 
disclosed a form in which it was impossible not to be immediately in- 
terested. He was a little above the average height, with a well-knit 
frame and a graceful carriage, which betrayed him as familiar with 
good society. A broad forehead — which seemed the more expansive 
as it merged into a perfectly bald crown — and the clearly cut and com- 
pressed lips, were S)rmbols alike of character and intellect. The eye, 
alas! which should have expressed even more, was blood-shot and 
streaked with veins, while the entire countenance was haggard and 
flushed. I had scarcely time for a superficial glance, when he sank upon 
a chair, and bowed his head between his arms, crossed upon the table, 
and in that position he sobbed aloud for the space of ten minutes. Sat- 
isfied that I was in the presence of a gentleman who would soon be 
able to assert himself, and direct the interview, I waited patiently for 
this paroxysm of feeling to pass by, without interposing a word. 

"Lifting himself, at length, he turned his face upon mine, and in 
choice language recited his personal history, substantially as follows: 

" 'You have before you, sir, a man who has fallen from the highest 
social position to the lowest degradation. At an early age I was left 
to the care of a widowed mother, and was reared with all that fond 

•Dr. Palmer contributed this account to the Southwestern Presby- 
terian, April 29, 1869, but not over his own name. 

184 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

affection likely to be lavished upon an only child. I was furnished with 
the advantages of a liberal education, and entered, at my majority, 
upon the possession of a handsome estate. Prosecuting the study of 
the law, and admitted to its practice, I was rising gradually in that 
profession, which promised to reward me with honorable distinction. 
In due course of time I was united in marriage with a lovely wife, 
whose intellectual gifts, personal charms, and amiable temper are such 
as seldom have blessed a human home. And, to crown the whole, I 
was a professor of religion, and esteemed a worthy member of the 
Church of God. In the midst of all this earthly prosperity, whilst life 
was blooming around me like the ancient paradise, I was seized, two 
years ago, with the insane desire of becoming suddenly rich, and 
yielded to the temptation of abandoning my profession, in order to 
speculate in whiskey! Separated by my new calling from the sweet 
influences of home, and surrounded by the associations which belong 
to such a traflSc, I have fallen a victim to its baneful power, and am 
now before you a degraded sot! upon the verge of delirium tremens. 
The two weeks that I have spent in your city have been spent in a deep 
debauch. These two letters [which he took from a side pocket] have 
been lying, unanswered, all that time; and not till this afternoon have 
I been sober enough to break the seals, and learn their contents. I 
have, however, read them over and over again, and you see they are 
blotted and stained with my tears. I am overwhelmed with remorse; 
listen to them, and see how they plead with such a wretch as I am!' 

"Choking with the emotion which often interrupted the perusal, 
he then unfolded and read to me the first of these letters ; it was from 
his mother, and a more eloquent and pathetic appeal never flowed, 
even from a mother's pen. It began with her early widowhood, when 
*the strong staff was broken, and the beautiful rod' upon which she 
had leaned. It told how her bruised affections had gathered around the 
only child spared to be the comfort of those weary years; and her 
heart had grown warm with hope as this boy developed into manhood. 
It described the fulness of her gratitude when these hopes seemed to 
be realized in the rich promise of his later years, and the proud joy 
she felt when, in his pride, she clasped a daughter in her arms. It 
depicted the beauty of his home, where now two prattling babes whis- 
pered the name of the absent father. Then came the fearful contrast: 
how the Tempter entered into this Eden, and with him the blighting 
of hopes, and the ruin of her son. Upon the back of all this, poured 
the passionate entreaty — ^breaking, like a wail, from a dying woman's 
heart — that the wanderer would come back to the endearments of 
home, and walk, evermore, in the paths of honor and virtue. The 
appeal was enough to move a heart of stone. It made me, a stranger, 
weep; no wonder that he, to whom it was addressed, shook beneath 
its breath, like a reed before the storm. 

"He then opened the second letter. It began: 'My darling husband/ 

Ante-Bellum Period, in New Orleans. 185 

Ah! this tenderness of a still loving wife; it cut with an edge keener 
than that of reproach — ^to the very core of his remorse. Throwing 
the sheet upon the table, he covered his face with his hands, and sobbed 
— without an effort at self-control. It was too much for me, as well 
as for him, so I put out my hand, gently, to his, and said, Tut up that 
letter, Mr. B. ; it is from your wife, and let no one come into the 
sanctuary of that confidence. I was not unwilling to hear the plead- 
ings of your mother — the words of a wife are too sacred.' 

"Replacing the letters in his pocket, he turned and said with some- 
thing like vehemence, 'My dear sir, will you pray for me?' TCneeling 
down together, I poured forth one of those wrestling prayers in which 
the argument grows, and the fervor deepens, as we advance, that it 
would please God to change this remorse into penitence ; that the blood 
of Christ might purge this conscience, groaning under a sense of guilt; 
that the Holy Spirit might renew and save this poor sinner, upon whom 
God had so just and perfect a claim. Scarcely had we risen before he 
cried out, *Oh ! sir, pray for me again I' We knelt a second time ; and 
so a third— and then a fourth — a fifth; when the sixth request came 
I paused, and said, *Mr. B., this scene is becoming oppressive; I am 
afraid that we are in danger of those vain repetitions which the 
Savior condemns. It is right that we should go to God in prayer, for 
he is the only source of grace and strength to you in this hard battle 
with your vices. But we have told it all to God, and now he waits 
to hear from your own lips what you mean to do.' 
'Dor said he, 'What can I do?' 

'My friend,' I replied; 'something else is required of you besides 
prayer; and by the very solemnity of the petitions we have offered 
here together, I summon you to decide what course you intend to 
pursue in the future.' 

'Tell me, sir, what I ought to do.' 

'Well, then, in the first place, you must extricate yourself from the 
accursed business which has been your ruin. Were I you, I would take 
the hogsheads of liquor you came here to sell, to the levee, and empty 
them all into the waters of the Mississippi.' 

" 'Ah, sir, I cannot do that, for I have partners equally implicated in 
the speculation.' 

" Then, at any rate, wash your hands of the whole business, at once ; 
will you do this?* 

" 'Yes, sir, I will, if I live to see to-morrow's sun.' 

" 'In the next place,' I resumed ; 'go back, at once, to your neglected 
home, and there, under the sanctity of your widowed mother's prayer, 
and beneath the softening influences of your wife arid babes, foster the 
purpose of reform. Resume the practice of your noble profession; and 
throw around yourself all the restraints and obligations of society. 
Will you do this?' 

'I will, sir,' was the instantaneous response. 




u ^^ 


i86 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

« u 

'Once more: I am bound in faithfulness to say to you that I have 
little confidence in the unaided strength of the human will to break the 
fetters of such a vice as holds you in its grasp; and none at all in 
the sinner's ability, without Divine grace, to repent, truly before God. 
Go, then, in your guilt and helplessness, to him whose promise is, 
'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,' and throw 
yourself upon his mercy, in Christ, for pardon and eternal life/ 

" 1 can only promise, my dear sir,' was the response, 'to make an 
honest effort to obey your counsel in respect to this.' 

" *Wha't I wish to impress upon you, my friend,* I replied, 'is, that 
remorse is not repentance, and reformaton is not religion. Renew the 
covenant which you have broken, with your God, and do not rest until 
you have a sense of your "acceptance in the beloved." * 

"Upon parting with him at the door, I said, 'Mr. B., do not touch 
a drop to-morrow, and come the next day to hear me preach.' 

"On the following Sabbath I looked anxiously around the church 
for my visitor, in whose welfare I was now deeply interested ; and, sure 
enough, over the gallery, not far from the pulpit, peered the face and 
head which could not be mistaken. I had found no difficulty in the se- 
lection of my theme, for the only dark feature of the conversation above 
narrated, was the disposition to throw the blame of his fall upon the 
circumstances which shaped his course. This danger I now sought to 
disclose, by choosing that passage from James which reads: 'Let no 
man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; but every man is 
tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust,' etc. Tracing the 
genealogy of sin, as here taught, I attempted to show that outward 
temptations derived their power from the inclinations and state of our 
own hearts, as congenial therewith ; that in every case of transgression, 
the sinner must assume the blame of his own misconduct; and that 
any attempt, however disguised, to throw it back upon God, involved 
the highest absurdity and self-contradiction, and added, immensely, to 
the guilt The following day he called at my door to bid me adieu, as 
he proposed that evening to return to his home in the West, and said, 
'You preached that sermon for me, on yesterday.' 

"'Yes,' I answered, 'for once in my life I was intensely personal 
in the pulpit ; I had no one in my thoughts but you ; I meant every word 
to be appreciated by you.' 

" 'I thank you for it,' was the response ; 'it was exactly what I needed. 
I see clearly, now, that I have been the author of my own ruin, and 
have no one to blame but myself.' 

'"Unless you distinctly recognize your own guilt,' I answered, 'you 
will never deal honestly with God in your repentance. Take your whole 
burden to him, with perfect assurance that he will never turn the 
true penitent away, who pleads for mercy in the name of Christ, the 

"Some years elapsed — four of them years of bitter sectional war — 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 187 

ere I had tidings of the poor returning prodigal. But shortly after 
my own restoration, from a long exile, to my own charge, a newspaper 
came to me, which, on being unfolded, contained a beautiful address, 

delivered at a Sabbath-school anniversary, in the State of . 

The next mail brought me a letter from my lost friend, stating that 
he had gone back to his home; regained the practice of his legal pro- 
fession; had sought pardon, and had found peace through the blood 
of Christ, and was then serving as the superintendent of the Sabbath- 
school, and as a ruling elder in the House of God. Unfortunately, 
before this letter could be answered, as my grateful heart prompted, 
it was mislaid, and the address forever lost. If, by any chance, this 
sketch should meet his eye, the writer prays that it may be accepted 
as an invitation to reopen the intercourse so abruptly closed." 

Other and equally striking illustrations might be given, 
of his efficiency in dealing with individuals.* 

He had not been a great social visitor back in South Carolina. 
He had been too constantly tense for that. But he had been a 
good pastor. He had ever been on the alert to seize and to im- 
prove a strategic moment. Seasons of joy and particularly sea- 
sons of sorrow had not called in vain for his presence and for 
wise and timely work. To pastoral ministrations in seasons of 
sorrow, in New Orleans, also, he gave much time and effort. 
The worse the season of trial for his people the more certain 
was he to be at hand. He had in him the stuff of which 
heroes are made and was always ready to go to any bedside 
where his services were needed, no matter what terrors lurked 
there. In New Orleans, the flowers bloom as beautifully dur- 
ing the stalking of the pestilence as at any other time; the 
foliage is as rich and luxuriant, the sky is as bright; and like 
these other good gifts of Providence, Dr. Palmer was there 
with all his kindly ministrations. 

Yellow fever had prevailed in New Orleans in 1853, ^854, 
and 1855. During 1853, out of a population of one hundred 
and iifty-four thousand, seven thousand, eight hundred and 
fort3'-nine persons had died of fever, and about twenty-five 
hundred in each of the two succeeding years. His friends 
back in South Carolina had held the terror of the scourge over 

*See "A Morbid Experience," Southwestern Presbyterian, May 27, 

i88 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

his head to dissuade him from going to New Orleans. In the 
distance it did not terrify him. Nor was he terrified by it 
when it began again to cut down multitudes in the city of his 
choice. There seem to have been only about two hundred 
deaths from yellow fever in 1857, ^^^ ^" ^858 there were four 
thousand, eight hundred and fifty-eight deaths. During this 
year Dr. Palmer became pastor of people far beyond the pale 
of his own congregation. Some of the men of the cloth were 
absent from the city during the awful summer and autumn of 
1858. Dr. Palmer being on the ground, in accord with his view 
that the pastor is needed most just in the hour of stress, pesti- 
lence and death, looked after not only his own, but all shep- 
herdless sheep. Indeed, it was his custom, while on his benefi- 
cent rounds, ministering ' to his own people, to enter every 
house on the way which displayed the sign of fever within; 
to make his way quietly to the sick room, utter a prayer, offer 
the consolation of the Gospel, and any other service which it 
was in his power to give; and then as quietly to leave. A 
great Jewish Rabbi of New Orleans says: "It was thus that 
Palmer got the heart as well as the ear of New Orleans. Men 
could not resist one who gave himself to such ministry as this." 
This work cost Dr. Palmer not a little as will shortly appear. 

It will be recalled that in his earlier charges Dr. Palmer 
had been a careful member of the session; that he was careful 
in receiving members into the Church ; and resolute in securing 
the administration of discipline to those deser\nng of judicial 
censures. There are not wanting signs that he carried the 
same theory and the same habits with him into his new field. 
He had gone into a field which must have suggested changes ; 
but he was no nose of wax. He went about his duties as a 
ruler in the house and kingdom of God tactfully. While using 
tact, he neither surrendered, merged, nor concealed his prin- 
ciples. Though desiring to live on the best practicable terms 
with Roman Catholics — the predominant element in the popu- 
lation of New Orleans — he continued to treat baptism as ad- 
ministered in that communion as invalid. A sessional decision 
to the effect of its invalidity, embodied in the records, March 
4, i860, may be taken as illustrative of his bearing throughout 
the period with regard to the principles of Presbyterian gov- 
ernment generally. 

The spiritual care of the blacks weighed heavily upon Dr. 
Palmer and his session. In the spring of 1859 ^^^ session 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 189 

passed a resolution to secure the permission of the mayor for 
the regular meeting of a colored congregation in the lecture 
room of the First Presbyterian Church. Soon after, Rev. B. 
Wayne was engaged to preach to the "blacks." They were 
modeling after Dr. Girardeau's Church in Charleston, S. C. 
Certain worthy and characterful blacks were made* leaders 
of the colored people under the missionary and session. Late 
in December, 1859, Elder J. A. Maybin was put into the 
place previously thereto occupied by Mr. Wayne, who had 
discontinued his services. 

Together with his session, Dr. Palmer took measures to 
secure joint meetings of the sessions of all the Presbyterian 
churches of the city with the view of conferring and praying 
for the spread of Presbyterianism throughout the city. In the 
autumn of 1859 ^^^ session is found trying to locate a mission 
Sunday-school. Such enterprises, as indeed his whole min- 
istry, were to be suspended before much good could be accom- 
plished ; but they are valuable as showing the spirit of the man 
and his co-rulers in the First Presbyterian Church. 

Services in behalf of the Church at large constituted a part 
of his labors from the outset of the New Orleans pastorate. 
In March, 1857, he was made the examiner of Presbytery in 
ecclesiastical history and polity, and the sacraments. In 1858 
he was appointed by the Synod of Mississippi as a member 
of its committee to endeavor to secure the establishment in 
New Orleans of the Southwestern Advisory Committee as a 
branch of the Board of Domestic Missions. There was sore 
need of this. The four Southwestern States of Alabama, 
Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas with an area of 376,637 
square miles, and a population of 2,108,502, had then only 
thirty missionaries, and received from. the Board in the North- 
east only $8,255, while contributing toward its cause $5,390.50, 
whereas four Northwestern States, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and 
Wisconsin, with an area of 192,052 square miles, and a popu- 
lation of 2,337,491, had one hundred and ninety-eight mission- 
aries, received from the Board $33,192, while contributing 
only $2,812.15. The brethren in the Southwest rejoiced in 
the number and success of the missionaries laboring in the 
Northwest. They understood that the excessive disproportion 
was due to natural causes, in large measure beyond human con- 
trol. Dr. Palmer himself, in 1859, pictured the situation in 
the following terms : 

igo Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"The West and Northwest are covered with a network of railroads, 
by which they are easily traversed, bringing their wants under the 
public eye; while the remoteness and inaccessibility of our territory 
screen its destitution alike from observation and from Christian sym- 
pathy. The poverty of our young ministers, together with the uncer- 
tainty of an immediate settlement, operates as a bar to their coming 
to so distant a region, and leads them to prefer a field lying nearer 
at hand. The debilitating nature of our climate, added to the perils of 
acclimation, so prodigiously exaggerated abroad, is an ever-present ar- 
gument against these tropical regions. Insomuch, too, as the great 
body of our candidates for the ministry come from the Northern 
and Middle States, it is, perhaps, natural they should prefer to labor 
in those parts of the country where all the institutions and usages of 
society are familiar and congenial. They are also attracted by the 
promise of larger congregations afforded where the population is more 
dense; and can, with difficulty, be impressed with the representative 
character of our small assemblages at the South. It is, moreover, un- 
deniable, and for a lamentation let it be written, that the purely mis- 
sionary aspect of this field, as embracing a very large number of un- 
tutored blacks, is so much overlooked. In seeking a settlement, our 
young men too generally prefer a field affording more mental stimulus, 
and turn away from these *poor who are ever with us,' in their ardor 
after greater intellectual improvement. All these causes, without dwell- 
ing upon others more strictly personal and private, combine to cut off the 
Southwest from that measure of supply to which it would seem fairly 
entitled. Upon a candid review of them, we can fully exonerate the 
officers of the Board, not only from censure, but even from the sus- 
picion of partiality. We are willing to believe the sincerity and depth 
of their sympathy, while they behold our destitution, which they have 
not the power to overtake; and we as distinctly foresee that all these- 
difficulties will embarrass any new and local agency that shall go into 
operation. But were they tenfold greater than they are, it is not pos- 
sible that those, whose lot Providence has cast within this region, 
shall sit down and succumb beneath them. We should be recreant to 
the Church, and to our divine Lord and Master, if, under these cir- 
cumstances, the question were not raised. What shall we do? Under 
the pressure of this great necessity, the proposition of a District Com- 
mittee, with its own Secretary, has been submitted to the Assembly; 
and should nothing more be achieved by their future labors than to 
arouse the churches of the Southwest to a more anxious and prayerful 
contemplation of their duty, and to draw the attention of our rising 
ministry more largely to this neglected territory, even these results 
will justify the action of the Assembly in their appointment." 

The Assembly of 1859 ordered the establishment of this 
Committee, an order which was executed in November of that 
year. Soon thereafter we find that in his church the third 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 191 

Monday evening of each month is observed as a time for 
prayer and contributions for domestic missions under the con- 
trol of the Advisory Committee of the Southwest. 

By the Synod which met in January, 1861, he was appointed, 
along with two other ministers, to prepare a pastoral letter 
on the subject of Home Missions ; with the result that a ring- 
ing letter of the sort desired was sent forth. 

He was early made Chairman of the Board of Trustees of 
the Synodical Depository. He was made commissioner to the 
Assemblies of 1858 and 1859, Thus honors and duties crowded 
thickly upon him. He took quickly and easily the very first 
place not only in his city and Presbytery, but in his Synod 
and in the vast section of the Southwest. 

During these years in New Orleans his pen was not alto- 
gether idle. It was employed not only in the production of 
carefully prepared briefs week after week, and of special ser- 
mons and lectures, but of occasional review articles. The 
chief ecclesiastical article was one of ninety-two pages in 
the Southern Presbyterian Quarterly, on "The GeneraJ Assem- 
bly of 1859," — a very elaborate and able review of the doings 
of that body. He excites a degree of surprise in the reader, 
who has been accustomed to associate soundness of doctrine 
with the name of Dr. Nathan L. Rice, when he teaches that, in 
the opening sermon, that noted polemic and divine had made a 
slip as to the nature of the intellectual assent involved nn sav- 
ing faith. Dr. Rice had seemed to make true faith, intellect- 
ually considered, to be specifically the same as speculative 
assent. His critic claims that in accord with evangelical con- 
fessions and the Scriptures, "the assent which characterizes 
true faith is specifically diflferent from the assent of the un- 
godly, a cognition in which the affection of the heart enters 
as an essential element; and is not superadded as something 
separate and distinct;" that it is with the heart that man be- 
lieveth unto righteousness; and that the immediate ground 
of cognition is the supernatural illumination of the Spirit. 
He handles Dr. Rice with the greatest deference but he handles 
him with no less skill than deference. 

He gives a full and critical account of the Assembly's deal- 
ing with the various Boards in the Church in 1859, showing 
that they were criticised as freely as any modern committees 
are. It has already appeared that the Synod of Mississippi 
was very desirous of having a branch of the Board of Domes- 

192 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

tic Missions located in New Orleans. The matter had been 
pressed before the Assembly of 1858. It was again and suc- 
cessfully advocated before the Assembly of 1859. 

The opponents of the measure intimated that the move- 
ment originated in sectional design; claimed that it militated 
against the unity of the effort to evangelize the whole country, 
and that it rested upon the false assumption that the Board 
was insufficient to accomplish its work ; they stressed the point 
that the missionary operations depended upon the Presbyteries 
which could act through a common central agency as well as 
through agencies near at hand. Dr. Palmer tells us in his 
review article the substance of his plea for the establishment 
of the Committee: 

"Against these positions, Dr. Palmer averred that this movement did 
not originate in any sectional design, but was intended merely to 
lengthen the arm of the Board, so that it might reach over the distant 
Southwest. The moneys raised would all be acknowledged in the re- 
ceipts of the Board, and be under their control; though necessarily, 
for a considerable time, they must be disbursed upon that field. Special 
reasons might be urged for this arrangement at the Southwest, as the 
difficulties in the way of evangelizing that region were somewhat pe- 
culiar. The country itself was very remote from the center of the 
Church's operations, and could be reached only after a week's travel. 
The facilities for communicating with the interior were few, so that its 
exploration would be a work of toil and time. The population was 
exceedingly heterogeneous, with a singular admixture of strange and 
foreign habits. Over a large portion of this region a false and Joreign 
religion still held the dominant sway. In some of these States there 
were no laws to enforce the observance of the Sabbath; and a Chris- 
tian public sentiment must, to a large extent, be created. The people of 
God were few in number; and the wealth of the country, lying chiefly 
outside of the Church, could only be drawn out by persons known to 
the givers, and could not be reached by general appeals from Philadel- 
phia. More than all, it was the door opening into a vast outlying 
territory, extending to the isthmus in one direction, and to the Pacific 
ocean in the other; a territory which, whether it shall be hereafter in- 
corporated into this Union or not, must be overtaken by the Gospel, 
and that, too, through our instrumentality, in connection with other 
branches of the Christian Church. It was of little use for the general 
Secretary to run down and touch here and there a few points upon the 
border of this great and destitute missionary region. A district 
Secretary was needed, who should go patiently to work, explore 
the whole territory, ascertain its wants, and where missionaries could 
advantageously be located, raise funds for their support, visit our 
theological schools, and awaken an interest in the hearts of our can- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 193 

didates for the ministry. By such considerations, showing that the only 
purpose had in view was to aid the Board of Domestic Missions in 
that distant and difficult region, and not to impair the unity of the 
Church, the measure was carried in the Assembly by an overwhelming 

One of the most interesting debates in the Assembly of 
1859 ^^^ precipitated over the Revised Book of Discipline. 
Dr. Thomwell was the Chairman of the Revision Committee, 
and delivered one of his lucid and powerful addresses, speak- 
ing only to certain general principles embodied in the Revised 
Book. After reporting this and other speeches pro and con. 
Dr. Palmer comments somewhat at lengtibi on views embodied 
in the Revised Book; and amongst others, on the relations of 
baptized members to the Church. On this subject his reflec- 
tions were enough like the views subsequently embodied in the 
Standards of the Southern Presbyterian Church to suggest, 
what may afterwards appear, that his views were determinative 
in the framing of those portions of our Standards : 

"The second proposition of the Committee, touching the relations 
of baptized members to the Church, is perhaps the most embarrassed 
with difficulties, and is the change upon which the Church most anx- 
iously seeks lis^t and guidance. The stringent doctrine advocated by 
some, that baptized youth, upon arriving at years of discretion, are to 
be constrained, upon penalty of excommunication, to consummate their 
tmion with the Church, we dare to affirm, never can prevail in the 
Presbyterian Church of this country, simply because the true idea of 
the Church, as a spiritual body, is more distinctly apprehended here 
than elsewhere. With all the deference we are accustomed to pay 
to the mother Church of Scotland and Ireland, in this particular it 
cannot be denied that the American Church is immeasurably in the ad- 
vance. She cannot, therefore, stand by the side of a baptized youth and 
say, with or without the spiritual qualifications you must, under pain 
of excommunication, seal your connection with the Church by approach- 
ing the Lord's table. Nor can she, recognizing the sovereignty of divine 
grace both as to the time and manner of its bestowal, undertake to 
limit the probation of such an one; and say, at any one moment, now 
this matter of your conversion is to be taken into your own hands, and 
now the exhausted patience of the Church refuses any longer to in- 
dulge your procrastination. She may, with tears of affection, press 
upon his conscience the exhortations of God's word, and urge the 
promises of Jehovah's covenant; but she has no authority from her 
divine Head to urge him, without the necessary qualifications, to pass 
into the inner sanctuary; nor yet, if he should refuse to hear, to thrust 
him out into the court of the Gentiles. From her prevailing practice 


194 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

in this particular, we have no idea that the American Presbyterian 
Church, with her conception of a spiritual religion, will ever be induced 
to swerve. 

''On the other hand, there is floating in the mind of the Church the 
impression that our baptized youth are, in such a sense, amenable to 
the discipline of the Church, that her authority may and should, in 
some way, be brought to bear upon their lives. How far this disci- 
pline should be carried, and in what form it should be administered, are 
precisely the points which the Church has never settled to her own 
satisfaction, and it is probably this want of precision and definiteness 
which has led to almost the universal neglect of all discipline. There 
is, however, lying in many minds, a painful apprehension that in this 
neglect the Church is criminal, and multitudes are anxeusly seeking 
their way through the difficulties which environ this whole subject. 
We are persuaded that the shyness of the Church in taking up the 
Revised Book of Discipline is, to some extent, explained by the em- 
barrassment we have just indicated. On the one hand, not prepared 
to adopt the rigid discipline based by some upon a strict construction 
of the phraseology of the present book; on the other hand, not pre- 
pared to relax her hold entirely upon her baptized members, the Church 
considerately pauses to see if there be no via media between these 
extremes. Now, the proposition of the committee, which we under- 
stand to be a medium between these conflicting views, seems to us very 
nearly to meet the difficulty, and we venture modestly to suggest that 
if the committee, in its further deliberations, will render their middle 
ground a little more definite and clear, it will go far to harmonize the 
Church, and prepare the way for a final deliverance upon this subject 
We understand their position to be, that while baptized persons are 
members of the Church, and are under its care and government, they 
are not proper subjects of judicial process; that is to say, discipline may 
be taken in a wide or in a narrow sense, so that they shall be under it 
in the one sense and not in the other. Now, if the committee shall 
be able to define in what form discipline shall be administered without 
judicial process — ^how the Church in the exercise of authority may take 
cognizance of flagrant immoralities in her baptized members, so as 
to distinguish between them and communicating members, they will 
succeed in untying the Gordian knot, and the Church will probably come 
without hesitation to her decision. The difficulty is a real one, to which 
side soever we choose to turn. The conscience of the Church is sorely 
tried on the one hand by the discordance between her present neglect 
of all discipline and the rigid requirements of the existing book; on 
the other hand, the nature and degree of the government and discipline 
recognized by the Revised Book, are so undefined as to afford no work- 
ing rule by which the discretion of the Church can be guided. We 
greatly fear that the committee may yield to a reaction of feeling, and 
may expunge all this portion of the revised code. This we would de- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 195 

plore, and respectfully submit, that to remand the Church to the pro- 
visions of the old book will not, in the least degree, help the matter, 
since the difficulty in the recognition and practice of these is fully as 
great as with the suggestions they have ventured in their revision," 

There were several articles produced in the period, some o£ 
which will receive incidental notice in the pages to follow. 

It was inevitable that he should be called upon for occa- 
sional sermons and addresses. One of the ablest and most 
elegant of thesfe was delivered before the Fayette Female 
Academy, July 28, 1859, upon "Female Excellence." He pleads 
for woman's cultivation in the features of elegance, of grace, 
of a richly stored and highly trained mind, of well regu- 
lated affections, of sincere piety^ and of power to appreciate 
labor, and to consecrate herself to it. The address was pub- 
lished in pamphlet form by the Trustees of the institution. 

By far tiie most noted occasional sermon of the period was 
his last "Thanksgiving Sermon," preached in i860; but of 
that sermon, its reception, and influence, we shall read in the 
next chapter. 



December, 1856 — May, 1861.) 

'The State of the Country in November, i860. — Dr. Palmer's Views 
ON the Subject of Secession. — ^The Action of South Carolina, 
November and December, i860. — Palmer, a Son of South Caro- 

Politics: His Famous Thanksgiving Sermon. — ^The Reception 
Accorded the Sermon by His Audience, and by the Wider Pub- 
lic. — His Domestic History, during this Period. — His Labors as 
A Comforter. — Honors Accorded Him. 

THE autumn of i860 was a critical time in the history of 
the United States. The country had just passed through 
its most heated political canvass. A party had ridden into 
power which, in the belief of Southern men, and of many 
Northern men as well, threatened the liberties of the people, the 
stability and even the life, of republican institutions. For 
decades men had believed in the right of States to secede from 
the Federal Union upon provocation which they deemed to be 
adequate. The men of the South, generally, still maintained 
the right. Dr. Palmer was of this belief. 

Being a South Carolinian, the belief came to him as an in- 
heritance; but it had become his^also as a student of Amer- 
ican history. The political faith which he entertained at this 
time, hesexpounded, early in the year 1861, in rejoinder to the 
somewhat confused teachings of the Rev. Dr. Robt. J. Breck- 
enridge, on secession. After certain preliminaries he said: 

"The dispute is whether this sovereignty (JHs summi imperii) re- 
sides in the people as they are, merged into the mass, one undivided 
whole; or in the people as they were originally formed into colonies, 
and afterwards into States, combining together for the purposes dis- 
tinctly set forth in their instruments of Union. Dr. Breckenridge 
maintains the former thesis; we defend the latter; and in the whole 
controversy upon the legal right of secession this is the cardo causae. 

"What, then, is the testimony of history? We find the first Con- 
tinental Congress, at New York, in 1765, called at the suggestion 
of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and composed 
of deputies from all the Colonial Assemblies represented therein. We 
find, in 1773, at the instance of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans, 197 

different Colonial Assemblies appointing Standing Committees of Cor- 
spondence, through whom a confidential communication was kept up 
between the Colonies. We find the votes in the Continental Congress 
of 1774, at Philadelphia, cast by Colonies, each being restricted to 
one only. We find in the celebrated Declaration of Independence, 
in 1776, 'the Representatives of the United States, in General Congress, 
assembled,' publishing and declaring 'in the name and by the authority 
of the people of these Colonies.' We find the Articles of Confederation, 
matured in 1777, remanded to the local legislatures, and ratified by 
the several States — ^by Maryland, not until 1781. The circular in 
which this form of confederation was submitted, requests the States 
'to authorize their delegates in Congress to subscribe the same in be- 
half of the State,' and solicits the dispassionate attention of the Leg- 
islatures of the respective States, under a sense of the difficulty of 
combining in one general system the various sentiments and interests- 
of a continent divided into so many sovereign and independent com- 
munities. ^ We recite these familiar facts to show that during the 
first period of our history, embracing the revolutionary struggle, the 
people were accustomed to act, not as an organic whole, but as con- 
stituting separate States, and combining for common and specified 
ends. Indeed, it could not be otherwise. Upon throwing off their 
allegiance to the British crown, and the sovereignty reverting to them- 
selves, they were not destitute of a political organization through 
which to act They had existed as organized, though not independent, 
communities before. What more natural, in their transition to new 
political relations, than to stand forth the communities they actually 
were? As separate Colonies they had been dependencies of the 
British crown: when that dependence was thrown aside, in whom 
could the original sovereignty reside, but in the people, who were 
now no longer Colonies, but States — in which form of existence the 
people are first represented to our view? The fact that they com- 
bined against a common foe, and to secure their independence together, 
does not impeach their inherent sovereignty. It remains perfectly 
discretionary with them — ^that is, with the people, as States — ^to de- 
termine how much of this sovereignty they will retain, and how much 
they will surrender, in the arrangements afterwards made. In the 
language of Chief Justice Jay, quoted by Mr. Story, 'thirteen sover- 
eignties were considered as emerging from the principles of the Revo- 
lution combined by local convenience and considerations — though they 
continued to manage their national concerns as 'one people.' We ac- 
cordingly reverse Dr. Breckenridge's proposition; we are not 'one Na- 
tion divided into many States,' but we are many States uniting to form 
one nation. 

"But let us see how the matter stands from the period of the old 
Confederation to the adoption of the present Constitution, in 1787. 

* Story's History of the Confederation. 

198 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

When the former was found to be breaking down from its own im- 
becility, and the necessity of a more perfect union was becoming 
apparent, it is curious to see how the pathway was opened through 
the almost accidental action of State Legislatures. In 1785, commission- 
ers were appointed by the States of Virginia and Maryland to form, a 
scheme for promoting the navigation of the River Potomac and the 
Chesapeake Bay. As they felt the need of more enlarged powers to 
provide a local naval force, and the tariff of duties upon imports, this 
grew into an invitation from Virginia to the other States to hold a 
convention for the purpose of establishing a general system of com- 
mercial relations — ^and this, at length, at the instance of New York, 
was enlarged, so as to provide for the revision and reform of the 
articles of the old Federal Compact. Thus grew up, by successive 
steps, the Convention which met at Philadelphia in 1787, by which the 
present Constitution was drafted, submitted to Congress as the 
common organ of the States, and by it referred for ratification 
to these States respectively. Here we have the same great principle of 
the sovereignty of the people, as they are States, clearly recognized. 
The tentative efforts toward improving the interior conunercial re- 
lations of the country, are initiated by two State Legislatures; by a 
third, a Convention of Delegates from all the States is suggested; 
and the new Constitution is finally debated and ratified by separate Con- 
ventions of the people in each — North Carolina withholding her assent 
till 1789, and Rhode Island till 1790. This historical review seems, 
to us, conclusive of the point in hand. The people — not as one, but as 
thirteen — revolt from the English yoke; because only as thirteen, 
and not as one, did they ever owe allegiance. The people — ^not as one, 
but as thirteen — ^unite to carry on a defensive and successful war; 
granting to the Continental Congress just the powers they saw fit — 
neither more nor less — as their common agent. The people — ^not as one, 
but as thirteen — ^prepare and adopt Articles of Confederation, under 
which they manage their common concerns for seven years. And 
finally — not as one, but again as thirteen — ^they frame and adopt a 
permanent Constitution; under which they have lived for seventy 
years, and have grown from thirteen to thirty-four. But suppose 
the two dilatory States, which withheld their assent to the Constitution 
for two and three years, had withheld it altogether. What then? Why, 
says Dr. Breckenridge, 'they would have passed by common consent 
into a new condition, and have become, for the first time, separate 
sovereignty to any State, 'except as they are united States.' How, then, 
but not separate in the sense of being distinct But he has denied 
sovereignty to Miy State, 'except as they are United States.' How, then, 
shall these two States, who, by supposition, refused to be united, be- 
come sovereign? *By common consent,* says Dr. Breckenridge, *thcy 
will pass into that condition.' But on what is this common consent 
to be based? Why not coerce them into the Union, if the people is one 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 199 

Nation, and these States are fractions of that Union? Certainly it is 
just because their refusal to concur would be an exercise of sovereign- 
ty, and it must needs be recognized as such. Yet, if the refusal to 
concur would be an act of sovereignty, then, by equality of reason, 
was their agreement to concur an act of sovereignty. In either case, 
the people of these two States — and so of all the others — ^were ante- 
cedently and distinctively sovereign; and hence, could not owe their 
sovereignty to the Union which they themselves created. It is reason- 
ing in a circle to say that the States are sovereign only as they are 
United States, when by the force of the term, as well as by the ex- 
press testimony of history, they are united only by a Union which is 
created in the exercise of their sovereignty. We commend this fact 
to the attention of Consolidationists : that two States did, for the 
term of three years, delay to come into the Union under the G>nsti- 
tution, although they were previously in it under the Confederation. 
It clearly proves that the people formed the Constitution as States, and 
not as a Consolidated nation. And that these States were not merely 
election districts, into which the one nation was conveniently distributed 
— but were organized communities, invested with the highest attri- 
butes of sovereignty, which they exercised again and again, by and 
through their supreme Conventions. If, as States, they could legally 
refuse to come into the Union, why may they not as legally withdraw 
from it? Upon the law maxim, 'expressio unius est exclusio alterius' 
this attribute of sovereignty remains, unless in the instrument it can 
be shown to be explicitly resigned. 

"It is plain, then, that before and at the adoption of the Constitution, 
these States were independent and sovereign. Have they ceased to be 
such by their assent to that instrument? Or, is the Federal Union 
simply a covenant between the people of these States for mutual bene- 
fits, and under conditions that are distinctly entered into the bond? 
Let us see. Much stress is laid upon the use of the words, 'the people,' 
in the preamble of the Constitution — conveying, it is alleged, the idea 
of an undivided nationality. It is, however, a plain canon of inter- 
pretation, that particular terms are to be explained by the context in 
which they occur. This preamble further states, that 'we, the people,' 
are 'the people of the United States;' a title evidently intended to em- 
body the history of the formation of the Union as a congressus of 
States, which, by aggregation, make up one people. In proof of this, 
it is a title simply transferred from the old Confederation, when no 
one denies that the States were separate and independent This fact 
is conclusive. As the Nation is formed by the confluence of States, 
a periphrastic title is given, which defines the character of this nation- 
ality, as not being consolidated, but federated. It is not a little remark- 
able, that no other title is employed throughout the Constitution but 
this of "United States;' the composition of which, historically, de- 
scribes confederation, and discriminates against consolidation. How 

200 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

does it happen, if the idea of a nation, as composed of individuals, 
simply districted into States, is the fundamental idea, not only that a 
baptismal name was withheld which should embody that conception, 
but that, on the contrary, a composite title was given, which marks 
precisely the opposite? 

"Let us now pass from the vestibule, and examine the framework 
of the Constitution itself. The first section of Article I. vests the 
Legislative power in a Congress consisting of two Chambers, a Senate 
and House of Representatives. In the latter, population is repre- 
sented. But what population ? the people of the Nation as a unit, or the 
people of the States? Unquestionably, the latter: for Section 4 pro- 
vides that 'the time, places and manner of holding the election shall 
be prescribecT in each State by the Legislature thereof.' Should a 
vacancy occur, 'writs of election are to be issued by the executive 
authority of each State.* Thus the States, individually, direct the 
election, and count and declare the vote. Plainly, this is done by the 
States, either as mere election districts, or else as organized Communi- 
ties, in the exercise of a supreme right. In addition to what has al- 
ready been urged, the fact of apportioning these representatives to the 
States respectively, according to the population of each, concludes 
against the theory that the people are fused into the mass, and de- 
termines for the idea that, under the Constitution, as before its adop- 
tion, the people represented are the people of the States in Congress 
assembled. In the Senate the case is still clearer, for these States 
are represented as such, all being placed upon the same footing, the 
largest having no more power than the least. If you turn to the 
Executive branch of the Government, the President and Vice Presi- 
dent are chosen by the people, indeed, but still by the people as con- 
stituting States. The electors must equal in number the representation 
which the State enjoys in Congress; and they must be chosen in 
such manner as each State, through its Legislature, shall determine. 
(Con., Art II.) Should the election fail with the people, it must go 
into the Congressional House of Representatives, with the remarkable 
provision, that the 'vote is there to be taken by States, the repre- 
sentation from each State having one vote.* Why so, if not to fore- 
stall the possibility, through the inequality of the Statrs in that cham- 
ber, of a President being chosen by a numerical majority merely, 
without being chosen by a concurrent majority of the States? We 
submit to the candor of the reader, if these constitutional provisions 
are not framed upon the conception that the people are contemplated 
as States, and not as condensed into a nation. If this latter were 
the fundamental idea, could arrangements be made more effectively 
to conceal or to cancel it? 

"But it is urged that, in the adoption of the Constitution, the States 
have remitted, in great part, their sovereignty; and have clothed the 
General Government with supreme authority in the powers they have 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 201 

conferred. 'Congress shall have power/ says the Constitution (Sec. 8, 
Art. I.) 'to levy and collect taxes, to regulate commerce, to coin 
money, to declare war, to negotiate peace,' and the like; all which, 
it is alleged, are the acts of a sovereign. Precisely so: Congress shall 
have the executive power; but the Constitution does not say the 
inherent right. The distinction between these two goes to the bottom 
of the case, and will clear up much prevalent misconception. The 
people of the States have not parted with one jot or tittle of their 
original sovereignty. According to primitive republicanism, it is im- 
possible they should do so. It exists unimpaired, just where it always 
resided, in the people constituting States. But these States, sustaining 
many relations to each other and to foreign nations, concur to manage 
those external matters in common. In their confederation for this 
purpose, they create an organ common to them all. To that agent they 
confide certain trusts, which are particularly enumerated; and that it 
may be competent to discharge the same, they invest it with certain 
powers, which are carefully defined. They consent to put a certain 
limitation upon the exercise of their individual sovereignty, so far as 
to abstain from the functions assigned to this common agent They 
come under a mutual pledge to recognize and to sustain this established 
Constitution, quoad its purposes, as the paramount law. But all this 
by no means implies the delegation of their sovereignty to the general 
government. Power is often conferred upon municipal corporations 
to perform certain functions pertaining to sovereignty — as, for example, 
the power of taxation. But who ever dreamed that these corporations 
became thus ipso facto sovereigns; or that the State, in conferring 
such charters, remitted any portion of its supremacy? In like manner, 
the several States, in granting these powers to Congress, granted them 
in trust, for purposes purely executive: retaining the right inherent in 
themselves to revoke these powers, and to cancel at will the instrument 
by which they are conveyed. We confess our inability to understand 
this doctrine of a double sovereignty: a sovereignty which, while it 
is delegated to the general government, is nevertheless supreme; and 
a sovereignty which, while it is retained by the States as a part of their 
original inheritance, is nevertheless subordinate. The very terms of 
either proposition appear to be solecisms. Sovereignty, however limited 
it may be in actual exercise, is simple, and incapable of distribution. 
It is a still greater contradiction to speak of a sovereign who is under 
subjection to a superior authority. We can very well understand how 
several sovereignties shall unite upon schemes which can only be exe- 
cuted by a restraint voluntarily imposed ; but not how they shall create a 
power that is superior to them all. Accordingly, we find the Constitution 
providing in its very last article for *the establishment of this Consti- 
tution* — ^not over, but 'between — the States ratifying the same.' The 
distinction between these two propositions is not metaphysical, but 
immensely practical and substantive. The first would establish the 

202 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

government of a superior over subjects who obey ; the second establishes 
a common law between equals who recognize and sustain. Still more 
emphatic is the tenth amendment to the Constitution, which specifies 
that 'all powers not delegated to the United States are reserved to the 
States respectively, or to the people/ This betrays the jealousy which 
watched over the formation of the Union, showing the grant to the 
general government to be a grant of specified and executive powers, 
while all the rest remains, by inherent right, with the States in their 
local and permanent organization, or with the people of those States 
in their primal and inalienable sovereignty. 

"This exposition of the relation of the States to the Federal Union, 
is confirmed by the debates in the Convention which formed the Con- 
stitution, in 1787. Aware of the weakness of the existing Confederation, 
it is not strange that a party arose desirous of strengthening the central 
power. It was urged against the new Constitution, that no tribunal 
was erected to determine controversies which might arise between 
the States and the Nation. The Supreme Court was restricted in its 
jurisdiction to causes in law and equity, and could not adjudicate polit- 
ical differences. The proposition was, therefore, submitted to extend 
its powers, so as to make it the arbiter of all issues that might arise. 
It did not, however, prevail so as be articulated into the Constitution. 
Of course, the States were thrown back upon the great principle of 
international law, that every sovereign must decide for himself in 
controverted issues, under a sense of responsibility to the opinion of 
mankind, and the verdict of impartial history. To show still further 
the relation of the States to the Union, we will cite another fact. 
Three resolutions were introduced into the Convention, the first de- 
claring 'that a Union of the States merely federal will not accomplish 
the objects proposed by the Articles of Confederation;* the second, 
'that no treaty or treaties between the States, as sovereign, will secure 
the common defence;* the third, 'that a national government ought to 
be established,* ' etc. The first two resolutions were immediately tabled ; 
the third was adopted; but afterwards, in the course of debate, undue 
stress being laid upon the word 'national* it was changed into 'the 
government of the United States." 

"Another method was proposed, to provide for the danger of collision 
between the Federal and State authorities. The sixth of Governor Ran- 
dolph's famous fifteen resolutions empowered 'the Federal Executive 
to call forth the force of the Union against any member of the Union 
failing to fulfill his duties under the articles thereof.* * This suggestion 
utterly failed to secure the assent of the Convention, and the resolution 
was abridged as to this feature of it. The strongest Centralists in 
the body, as Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton, repudiated the principle, 
as tantamount to a declaration of war and a dissolution of the Union, 
and utterly repugnant to the genius and spirit of this Government. We 

"Elliot's Debates, Vol. I., p. 391. * Ibid., p. 427. *Ibid., p. 144. 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 203 

cannot burthen this article with the citation of authorities. These 
general facts are sufficient to show the view taken by the framers 
of the Constitution, as to the relations between the States and the 
central authority. They are of no little significance, at a time like this, 
when so many are clamoring for the coercion of the South, whether 
it be a coercion of laws or a coercion of arms. The puerile distinction 
had not occurred to these wise men of a past age, between coercing a 
State and the coercion of its citizens alone : a distinction perfectly legit- 
imate, when a State professes to recognize the authority of the Union, 
and unlawful combinations of individuals exist to resist the same; 
but a distinction utterly impertinent, when the State asserts her sov- 
ereign jurisdiction over her citizens, and disclaims any longer partici- 
pation in the Federal Union. Manifestly, if a State, while in the 
Union, may not be coerced by Federal power, without its 'being tanta- 
mount to a declaration of war,' then, ex fortiori, she may not be co- 
erced when by her sovereign act the bonds have been sundered by 
which she was held under the compact, and she stands wholly without 
the pale of the Union. 

"The longest argument must have an end. We advert, finally, to 
the notorious fact, that in the very act of ratifying this Constitution, 
three States asserted their sovereign right to resume the powers they 
had delegated. New York declared 'that the powers of government 
may be reassumed by the people whenever it shall become necessary 
to their happiness:*' and further indicates what people she means, by 
speaking, in the same connection, of the residuary power and jurisdic- 
tion in the people of the State, not granted to the General Government. 
The delegates from Virginia 'declare and make known, in the name 
and in the behalf of the people of Virginia, that the powers granted 
under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United 
States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be per- 
verted to their injury and oppression.* ■ In like manner, Rhode* Island 
protests against the remission of her right of resumption. And while 
the language is not so explicit as that of New York, the meaning is 
precisely the same ; for, as the original grantor of these powers was the 
people of the States, and not the collective people of the country at 
large, the former alone had the right to reassume. The other States 
made no such declarations. Indeed, as the right lay in the very nature 
and history of the federation, they could be made by these three only 
in the way of superabundant caution. This right, so solemnly asserted 
seventy years ago, has been sleeping upon the records of the country. 
It is- now brought into exercise by seven States, and the issue can no 
longer be blinked. If the insane advice gratuitously tendered in this 
pamphlet should be followed by the Federal authorities, the war that 
ensues will be a war of principle as well as of passion: and the South 

' Elliot's Debates, Vol. I., p. 327. ' Ibid. 

204 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

will know that she is contending against tyranny in theory as well as 
tyranny in practice. 

"It would thus appear the doctrine of wlHidraw^l from the Union 
is not so novel as it has been supposed by those who scout it as mon- 
strous. Let us see if it has not made its appearance more than once 
in the history of the country. When Mr. Jefferson was made Secre- 
tary of State, after his return from France, he was warmly importuned 
by Mr. Hamilton to throw his influence in favor of the assumption of 
the State debts, in order to save the Union from threatened dissolution. 
*He,* says Mr. Jefferson, 'painted pathetically the temper into which 
the legislatures had been wrought ; the disgust of those who were called 
the creditor States; the danger of the secession of their members, and 
the separation of the States;*^ which was only averted by bringing 
over two of the Virginia delegation (White and Lee) to support the 
measure. At a later period, the passage of the Embargo Act, it is 
well known, inflamed the New England States to the highest degree; 
so that on the floor of Congress it was declared, 'they were repining for 
a secession from the Union.' In the Hartford Convention, at which 
five of the Eastern States were represented, the report which was 
adopted uses the following language: 'Whenever it shall appear that 
these causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable ar- 
rangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nom- 
inal friends, but real enemies, inflamed by mutual hatred and jealousy,' 
etc Again: 'In cases of deliberate, dangerous and palpable infractions 
of the Constitution, affecting the sovereignty of a State and the liber- 
ties of the people, it is not only the right, but the duty, of such a State 
to interpose its authority for their protection, in the manner best cal- 
culated to secure that end. When emergencies occur which are be- 
yond the reach of the judicial tribunals, or too pressing to admit of the 
delay incident to their forms, States, which have no common umpire, 
must be their own judges, and execute their own decisions.' It is a 
little curious that these avowals of the right of secession should come 
from the very section which is most chargeable with begetting the 
present schism : and that the very people now most ready to arm them- 
selves for the coercion of the South could plead for an equitable and 
peaceful separation, so long as it was meditated by themselves. The 
infamy attached to the Hartford Convention springs not from their 
exposition of political doctrine, but from the insufliciency of the cause 
impelling them to a breach of compact, and from the want of patriot- 
ism which could meditate such a step when the country was in the 
midst of a war with a foreign enemy. 

"We have thus argued the legal right of secession, without touching 
upon its moral aspect Regarding the Union in the light of a compact, 
it is not lightly to be broken. Framed for such purposes, and under 
such circumstances, it was a covenant peculiarly sacred, which could 

^Irving's Life of Washington, Vol. V., p. 6i. 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 205 

not be set aside without guilt somewhere. In this regard, the seceding 
South is prepared to carry her cause before the world, and before God. 
When the Union had failed in all the ends for which it was instituted 
— neither 'establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquillity, promoting 
the general welfare, nor securing the blessings of liberty;* when these 
delegated powers were perverted into powers of oppression and injury; 
when the compact had flagrantly, and with impunity, been broken by 
the other parties to it, then it became the South to assert her last 
right, that of a peaceful withdrawal from the partnership. If to her 
other wrongs this last and most atrocious of them all, an attempt at 
her forcible subjugation is to be added, then will her defence be as 
complete as an injured people ever carried over to the judgment of 
posterity. On this, however, we will not enlarge. It will be seen that, 
upon the legal aspects of the question, we are at antipodes with the 
writer, whose essay we have reviewed. He affirms the people to be one, 
divided into many: we, that they are many, united into one. He as- 
cribes sovereignty to the Union: we, to the States. He regards the 
Constitution as creating a government which is over the States: we 
regard it as a common law established between the States. In his view, 
'any attempt to throw off this national allegiance, in any legal, in any 
constitutional, in any historical light, is pure madness:* in our view, 
in every legal, constitutional, or historical light, there is no allegiance 
to be thrown off, and consequently there is no madness in the case. 
He affirms secession to be rebellion, which must be suppressed at every 
hazard: we, that it is an inherent right of sovereignty, which cannot 
be disallowed without an international war. Let the reader put the 
two into his own scales, and decide for himself."" 

The people of South Carolina inaugurated the Revolution 
as early as November 17, i860. Thenceforward events trod 
upon the heels of events ; and every critical movement made by 
the people of his old mother State, or of her sister States of 
like views and sympathies, stirred to its depths the heart of 
Benjamin M. Palmer. He had throughout his ministerial ca- 
reer, devoted himself with singular assiduity and exclusiveness 
to his high calling of preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus 
Christ; but he had ever been intensely patriotic. A man of 
wonderful poise and self-command, he became inwardly agi- 
tated. A patriotic fire burned in his bones. 

The temptation to utter himself on the great subject of 
political strife became overwhelming. He came to think he 

•The article from which this excerpt was taken, appeared in the 
Southern Presbyterian Review, Vol. XIV., pp. 162-175. It came out 
in April, 1861, but may be safely considered as showing his views in 
the fall of i860. 

2o6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

ought to speak on it; to think that it belonged to him as a 
minister and a divine to do so. Hence the "Thanksgiving 
Sermon" of November 29, i860. 

The argument of this sermon does not seem, in all points, 
invincible ; but it exercised so vast an influence that it deserves 
a careful reading not only by every student of Dr. Palmer's 
life but by everyone who would understand the temper of the 
Southwest on the eve of the war between the sections. With 
reference to one of the occasions of strife, at the least, he spoke 
for the best element in that great section. 

The preacher took for his text Psalm 94 : 20 : "Shall the 
throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth 
mischief by a law?" and Obadiah 7 : "All the men of thy con- 
federacy have brought thee even Jto the border; the men that 
were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed 
against thee; they that ate thy bread have laid a wound under 
thee; there is none understanding in him." 

He said: 

"The voice of the Chief Magistrate has summoned us to-day to the 
house of prayer. This call, in its annual repetition, may be too often 
only a solemn state-form; nevertheless it covers a mighty and double 

"It recognizes the existence of a personal God whose will shapes the 
destiny of nations, and that sentiment of religion in man which points 
to Him as the needle to the pole. Even with those who grope in the 
twilight of natural religion, natural conscience gives a voice to the dis- 
pensations of Providence. If in autumn 'extensive harvests hang their 
heavy head,' the joyous reaper, 'crowned with the sickle and the wheaten 
sheaf,' lifts his heart to the 'Father of Lights from whom cometh 
down every good and perfect gift.' Or, if pestilence and famine waste 
the earth, even pagan altars smoke with bleeding victims, and costly 
hecatombs appease the Divine anger which flames out in such dire 
misfortunes. It is the instinct of man's religious nature, which, among 
Christians and heathen alike, seeks after God — the natural homage 
which reason, blinded as it may be, pays to a universal and ruling Prov- 
idence. All classes bow beneath its spell especially in seasons of 
gloom, when a nation bends beneath the weight of a general calamity, 
and a commoi)^ sorrow falls upon every heart. The hesitating skep- 
tic forgets to weigh his scruples, as the dark shadow passes over him 
and fills his soul with awe. The dainty philosopher, coolly discoursing 
of the forces of nature and her uniform laws, abandons, for a time 
his atheistical speculations, abashed by the proofs of a supreme and 
personal will. 

"Thus the devout followers of Jesus Christ and those who do not 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 207 

rise above the level of mere theisms, are drawn into momentary fellow- 
ship; as under the pressure of these inextinguishable convictions they 
pay a public and tmited homage to the God of nature and of grace. 

"In obedience to this great law of religious feeling, not less than in 
obedience to the civil ruler who represents this commonwealth in its 
unity, we are now assembled. Hitherto, on similar occasions, our 
language has been the language of gratitude and song. The voice 
of rejoicing and salvation was in the tabernacles of the righteous.' 
Together we praised the Lord 'that our garners were full, affording 
all manner of store; that our sheep brought forth thousands and ten 
thousands in our streets; that our oxen were strong to labor, and 
there was no breaking in nor going out, and. no complaining was in 
our streets/ As we together surveyed the blessings of Providence, 
the joyful chorus swelled from millions of people, 'Peace be within thy 
walls and prosperity within thy palaces.' But, to-day, burdened hearts 
all over this land are brought to the sanctuary of God. We 'see the 
tents of Cushan in affliction, and the curtains of the land of Midian 
do tremble.' We have fallen upon times when there are 'signs in the 
sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; upon the earth distress of 
nations, with perplexities; the sea and the waves roaring; men's 
hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which 
are coming* in the near yet gloomy future. Since the words of this 
proclamation were penned by which we are convened, that which all 
men dreaded, but against which all men hoped, has been realized; 
and in the triumph of a sectional majority we are compelled to read the 
probable doom of our once happy and united Confederacy. It is not 
to be concealed that we are in the most fearful and perilous crisis which 
has occurred in our history as a nation. The cords which, during four- 
fifths of a century, have bound together this growing republic are now 
strained to their utmost tension: they just need the touch of fire to 
part asunder forever. Like a ship laboring in the storm and suddenly 
grounded upon some treacherous shoal— every timber of this vast 
Confederacy strains and groans under the pressure. Sectional divisions, 
the jealousy of rival interests, the lust of political power, a bastard 
ambition which looks to personal aggrandizement rather than, to the 
public weal, a reckless radicalism which seeks for the subversion of 
all that is ancient and stable, and a furious fanaticism which drives 
on its ill-considerd conclusions with utter disregard of the evil it en- 
genders — ^all these combine to create a portentous crisis, the like of 
which we have never known before, and which puts to a crucifying 
test the virtue, the patriotism and the piety of the country. 

"You, my hearers, who have waited upon my public ministry and have 
known me in the intimacies of pastoral intercourse, will do me the jus- 
tice to testify that I have never intermeddled with political questions. 
Interested as I might be in the progress of events, I have never ob- 
truded, either publicly or privately, my opinions upon any of you; 

2o8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

nor can a single. man arise and say that, by word or sign, have I ever 
sought to warp his sentiments or control his judgment upon any polit- 
ical subject whatsoever. The party questions which have hitherto 
divided the political world have seemed to me to involve no issue 
sufficiently momentous to warrant my turning aside, even for a moment, 
from my chosen calling. In this day of intelligence, I have felt there 
were thousands around me more competent to instruct in statesman- 
ship; and thus, from considerations of modesty no less than prudence, 
I have preferred to move among you as a preacher of righteousness 
belonging to a kingdom not of this world. 

"During the heated canvass which has just been brought to so dis- 
astrous a close, the seal of a rigid and religious silence has not been 
broken. I deplored the divisions amongst us as being, to a large ex- 
tent, impertinent in the solemn crisis which was too evidently impend- 
ing. Most clearly did it appear to me that but one issue was before us ; 
an issue soon to be presented in a form which would compel the atten- 
tion. That crisis might make it imperative upon me as a Christian 
and a divine to speak in language admitting no misconstruction. Until 
then, aside from the din and strife of parties, I could only mature, 
with solitary and prayerful thought, the destined utterance. That hour 
has come. At a juncture so solemn as the present, with the destiny 
of a great people waiting upon the decision of an hour, it is not lawful 
to be still. Whoever may have influence to shape public opinion, at 
such a time must lend it, or prove faithless to a trust as solemn as 
any to be accounted for at the bar of God. 

"Is it immodest in me to assume that I may represent a class whose 
opinions in such a controversy are of cardinal importance — ^the class 
which seeks to ascertain its duty in the light simply of conscience and 
religion, and which turns to the moralist and the Christian for support 
and guidance? The question, too, which now places us upon the brink 
of revolution was in its origin a question of morals and religion. 
It was debated in ecclesiastical counsels before it entered legislative 
halls. It has riven asunder the two largest religious communions 
in the land: and the right determination of this primary question will 
go far toward fixing the attitude we must assume in the coming strug- 
gle. I sincerely pray God that I may be forgiven if I have misappre- 
hended the duty incumbent upon me "to-day; for I have ascended this 
pulpit under the agitation of feeling natural to one who is about to 
deviate from the settled policy of his public life. It is my purpose — 
not as your organ, compromitting you, whose opinions are for the most 
part unknown to me, but on my sole responsibility — to speak upon the 
one question of the day; and to state the duty which, as I believe, 
patriotism and religion alike require of us all. I shall aim to speak 
with a moderation of tone and feeling almost judicial, well befitting 
the sanctities of the place and the solemnities of the judgment day. 

"In determining our duty in this emergency it is necessary that we 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 209 

should first ascertain the nature of the trust providentially committed 
to us. A nation often has a character as well defined and intense as 
that of an individual This depends, of course upon a variety of causes 
operating through a long period of time. It is due largely to the orig- 
inal traits which distinguish the stock from which it springs, and to 
the providential training which has formed its education. But, however 
derived, this individuality of character alone makes any people truly 
historic, competent to work out its specific mission, and to become a 
factor in the world's progress. The particular trust assigned to such a 
people becomes the pledge of the divine protection; and their fidelity 
to it determines the fate by which it is finally overtaken. What that 
trust is must be ascertained from the necessities of their position, the 
institutions which are the outgrowth of their principles and the conflicts 
through which they preserve their identity and independence. If then 
the South is such a people, what, at this juncture, is their providential 
trust? I answer, that it is to conserve and to perpetuate the insti- 
tution of domestic slavery as now existing. It is not necessary here 
to inquire whether this is precisely the best relation in which the 
hewer of wood and drawer of water can stand to his employer; al- 
though this proposition niay perhaps be successfully sustained by 
those who choose to defend it Still less are we required, dogmatically, 
to affirm that it will subsist through all time. Baffled as our wisdom 
may now be in finding a solution of this intricate social problem, it 
would nevertheless be the height of arrogance to pronounce what 
changes may or may not occur in the distant future. In the grand 
march of events Providence may work out a solution undiscoverable 
by us. What modifications of soil and climate may hereafter be pro- 
duced, what consequent changes in the products on which we depend, 
what political revolutions may occur among the races which are now 
enacting the great drama of history: all such inquiries are totally 
irrelevant because no prophetic vision can pierce the darkness of that 
future. If this question should ever arise, the generation to whom it 
is remitted will doubtless have the wisdom to meet it, and Providence 
will furnish the lights in which it is to be resolved. All that we claim 
for them, for ourselves, is liberty to work out this problem, guided by na- 
ture and God, without obtrusive interference from abroad. These great 
questions of Providence and history must have free scope for their 
solution; and the race whose fortunes are distinctly implicated in the 
same is alone authorized, as it is alone competent, to determine them. 
It is just this impertinence of human legislation, setting bounds to 
what God alone can regulate, that the South is called this day to re- 
sent and resist' The country is convulsed simply because 'the throne 
of iniquity frameth mischief by a law.' Without, therefore, determin- 
ing the question of duty for future generations, I simply say, that for 
us, as now situated, the duty is plain of conserving and transmitting 
the system of slavery, with the freest scope for its natural development 


2IO Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

and extension. Let us, my brethren, look our duty in the face. With 
this institution assigned to our keeping, what reply shall we make 
to those who say that its days are numbered? My own conviction is, 
that we should at once lift ourselves, intelligently, to the highest moral 
ground and proclaim to all the world that we hold this trust from God, 
and in its occupancy we are prepared to stand or fall as God may ap- 
point If the critical moment has arrived at which the great issue is 
joined, let us say that, in the sight of all perils, we will stand by our 
trust; and God be with the right! 

"The argument which enforces the solemnity of this providential 
trust is simple and condensed. It is botmd upon us, then, by the prin- 
ciple of self 'preservation, that 'first law' which is continually asserting 
its supremacy over all others. Need I pause to show how this system 
of servitude underlies and supports our material interests; that our 
wealth consists in our lands and in the serfs who till them; that from 
the nature of our products they can only be cultivated by labor which 
must be controlled in order to be certain; that any other than a trop- 
ical race must faint and wither beneath a tropical sun? Need I pause 
to show how this system is interwoven with our entire social fabric; 
that these slaves form parts of our households, even as our children; 
and that, too, through a relationship recognized and sanctioned in the 
Scriptures of God even as the other? Must I pause to show how it 
has fashioned our modes of life, and determined all our habits of 
thought and feeling, and moulded the very type of our civilization? 
How then can the hand of violence be laid upon it without involving 
our existence? The so-called free States of this country are working 
out the social problem under conditions peculiar to themselves. These 
conditions are sufficiently hard, and their success is too uncertain to 
excite in us the least jealousy of their lot With a teeming population, 
which the soil cannot support; with their wealth depending upon arts, 
created by artificial wants; with an external friction between the 
grades of their society; with their labor and their capital grinding 
against each other like the upper and nether millstones; with labor 
cheapened and displaced by new mechanical inventions, bursting more 
asunder the bonds of brotherhood — amid these intricate perils we have 
ever given them our sympathy and our prayers, and have never sought 
to weaken the foundations of their social order. God grant them com- 
plete success in the solution of all their perplexities! We, too, have 
our responsibilities and trials; but they are all bound up in this one 
institution, which has been the object of such unrighteous assault 
through five and twenty years. If we are true to ourselves we shall, 
at this critical juncture, stand by it and work out our destiny. 

'This duty is bound upon us again as the constituted guardians of 
the slaves themselves. Our lot is not more implicated in theirs, than 
their lot in ours ; in our mutual relations we survive or perish together. 
The worst foes of the black race are those who have intermeddled on 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 211 

their behalf. We know better than others that every attribute of thpir 
character fits them for dependence and servitude. By nature the most 
a£Fectionate and lo3ral of all races beneath the sun, they are also the 
most helpless; and no calamity can befall them greater than the loss 
of that protection they enjoy under this patriarchal system. Indeed, 
the experiment has been grandly tried of precipitating them upon free- 
dom which they know not how to enjoy; and the dismal results are 
before us in statistics that astonish the world. With the fairest por- 
tions of the earth in their possession and with the advantage of a long 
discipline as cultivators of the soil, their constitutional indolence has 
converted the most beautiful islands of the sea into a howling waste. 
It is not too much to say that if the South should, at this moment, 
surrender every slave, the wisdom of the entire world, united in sol- 
emn council, could not solve the question of their disposal Their 
transportation to Africa, even if it were feasible, would be but the 
most refined cruelty; they must perish with starvation before they 
could have time to relapse into their primitive barbarism. Their res- 
idence here, in the presence of the vigorous Saxon race, would be but 
the signal for their rapid extermination before they had time to waste 
away through listlessness, filth and vice. Freedom would be their 
doom; and equally from both they call upon us, their provid^tial 
guardians, to be protected. I know this argument will be scoffed 
abroad as the hypocritical cover thrown over our own cupidity and 
selfishness; but every Southern master knows its truth and feels its 
power. My servant, whether bom in my house or bought with my 
money, stands to me in the relation of a child. Though providentially 
owing me service, which, providentially, I am bound to exact, he is, 
nevertheless, my brother and my friend, and I am to him a guardian 
and a father. He leans upon me for protection, for counsel, and for 
blessing; and so long as the relation continues, no power but the power 
of Almighty God shall come between him and me. Were there no 
argument but this, it binds upon us the providential duty of preserving 
the relation that we may save him from a doom worse than death. 

"It is a duty which we owe, further, to the civilised world. It is a 
remarkable fact that during these thirty years of unceasing warfare 
against slavery, and while a lying spirit has inflamed the world against 
us, that world has grown more and more dependent upon it for sus- 
tenance and wealth. Every tyro knows that all branches of industry 
fall back upon the soil. We must come, every one of us, to the bosom 
of this great mother for nourishment. In the happy partnership which 
has grown up in providence between the tribes of this confederacy, 
our industry has been concentrated upon agriculture. To the North 
we have cheerfully resigned all the profits arising from manufacture 
and commerce. Those profits they have, for the most part, fairly 
earned, and we have never begrudged them. We have sent them our 
sugar and bought it back when refined; we have sent them our cotton 

212 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

and bought it back when spun into thread or woven into cloth. Almost 
every article we use, from the shoe lachet to the most elaborate and 
costly article of luxury, they have made and we have bought; and both 
sections have thriven by the partnership, as no people ever thrived 
before sin^e the first shining of the sun. So literally true are the 
words of the text, addressed by Obadiah to Edom, 'All the men of 
our confederacy, the men that were at peace with us, have eaten our 
bread at the very time they have deceived and laid a woimd under us.' 
Even beyond this the enriching commerce which has built the splen- 
did cities and marble palaces of England, as well as of America, has 
been largely established upon the products of our soil; and the blooms 
upon Southern fields gathered by black hands have fed the spindles 
and looms of Manchester and Birmingham not less than of Lawrence 
and Lowell. Strike now a blow at this system of labor and the world 
itself totters at the stroke. Shall we permit that blow to fall? Do we 
not owe it to civilized man to stand in the breach and stay the uplifted 
arm? If the blind Samson lays hold of the pillars which support the 
arch of the world's industry, how many more will be buried beneath its 
ruins than the lords of the Philistines? 'Who knoweth whether we are 
not come to the kingdom for such, a time as this.' 

"Last of all, in this great struggle, we defend the cause of God and 
religion. The abolition spirit is undeniably atheistic. The demon 
which erected its throne upon the guillotine in the days of Robespierre 
and Marat, which abolished the Sabbath and worshipped reason in 
the person of a harlot, yet survives to work other horrors, of which 
those of the French Revolution are but the type. Among a people so 
generally religious as the American, a disguise must be worn; but it is 
the same old threadbare disguise of the advocacy of human rights. 
From a thousand Jacobin clubs here, as in France, the decree has gone 
forth which strikes at God by striking at all subordination and law. 
Availing itself of the morbid and misdirected sympathies of men, it 
has entrapped weak consciences in the meshes of its treachery ; and now, 
at last, has seated its high priest upon the throne, clad in the black 
garments of discord and schism, so symbolic of its ends. Under this 
suspicious cry of reform, it demands that every evil shall be corrected, 
or society become a wreck — the sun must be stricken from the heavens, 
if a spot is found upon his disk. The Most High, knowing his own 
power, which is infinite, and his own wisdom, which is unfathomable, 
can afford to be patient But these self -constituted reformers must 
quicken the activity of Jehovah or compel his abdication. In their 
furious haste, they trample upon obligations sacred as any which can 
bind the conscience. It is time to reproduce the obsolete idea that 
Providence must govern man, and not that man shall control Provi- 
dence. In the imperfect state of human society, it pleases God to allow 
evils which check others that are greater. As in the physical world, 
objects are moved forward, not by a single force, but by the composi- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 213 

tion of forces; so in his moral administration, there are checks and 
balances whose intimate relations are comprehended only by himself. 
But what reck they of this — these fierce zealots who undertake to drive 
the chariot of the sun? Working out the single and false idea which 
rides them like a nightmare, they dash athwart the spheres, utterly 
disregarding the delicate mechanism of Providence, which moves on, 
wheels within wheels, with pivots and balances and springs, which the 
great Designer alone can control. This spirit of atheism, which knows 
no God who tolerates evil, no Bible which sanctions law, and no con- 
science that can be bound by oaths and covenants, has selected us for 
its victims, and slavery for its issue. Its banner-cry rings out already 
upon the air — 'liberty, equality, fraternity,' which simply interpreted 
mean bondage, confiscation and massacre. With its tricolor waving in 
the breeze, — ^it waits to inaugurate its reign of terror. To the South 
the high position is assigned of defending, before all nations, the cause 
of all religion and of all truth. In this trust, we are resisting the power 
which wars against constitutions and laws and compacts, against 
Sabbaths and sanctuaries, against the family, the State, and the Church ; 
which blasphemously invades the prerogatives of God, and rebukes 
the Most High for the errors of his administration; which, if it can- 
not snatch the reign of empire from his grasp, will lay the universe in 
ruins at his feet. Is it possible that we shall decline the onset? 

"This argument, then, which sweeps over the entire circle of our re- 
lations, touches the four cardinal points of duty to ourselves, to our 
slaves, to the world, and to Almighty God. It establishes the nature 
and solemnity of our present trust, to preserve and transmit our existing 
system of domestic servitude, with the right, unchallenged by man, to 
go and root itself wherever Providence and nature may carry it. 
This trust we will discharge in the face of the worst possible peril. 
Though war be the aggregation of all evils, yet should the madness 
of the hour appeal to the arbitration of the sword, we will not shrink 
even from the baptism of fire. If modem crusaders stand in serried 
ranks upon some plain of Esdraelon, there shall we be in defence of our 
trust Not till the last man has fallen behind the last rampart, shall 
it drop from our hands; and then only in surrender to the God who 
gave it. 

"Against this institution a system of aggression has been pursued 
through the last thirty years. Initiated by a few ^natics, who were at 
first despised, it has gathered strength from opposition until it has as- 
sumed its present gigantic proportions. No man has thoughtfully 
watched the progress of this controversy without being convinced 
that the crisis must at length come. Some few, perhaps, have hoped 
against hope, that the gathering imposthume might be dispersed, and 
the poison be eliminated from the body politic by healthful remedies. 
But the delusion has scarcely been cherished by those who have studied 
the history of fanaticism in its path of blood and fire through the ages 


214 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of the past The moment must arrive when the conflict must be joined, 
and victory decide for one or the other. As it has been a war of legis- 
lative tactics, and not of physical force, both parties have been ma- 
neuvering for a position ; and the embarrassment has been, whilst dodg- 
ing amidst constitutional forms, to make an issue that should be clear, 
simple, and tangible. Such an issue is at length presented in the result 
of the recent Presidential election. Be it observed, too, that it is an 
issue made by the North, not by the South, upon whom, therefore, 
must rest the entire guilt of the present disturbance. With a choice 
between three national candidates, who have more or less divided the 
votes of the South, the North, with unexampled unanimity, have cast 
their ballot for a candidate who is sectional, who represents a party 
that is sectional, and the ground of that sectionalism, prejudice against 
the established and constitutional rights and immunities and institu- 
tions of the South. What does this declare — what can it declare, but 
that from henceforth this is to be a government of section over section ; 
a government using constitutional forms only to embarrass and divide 
the section ruled, and as fortresses through whose embrasures the can- 
npn of legislation is to be employed in demolishing the guaranteed 
institutions of the South? What issue is more direct, concrete, intel- 
ligible than this? I thank God that, since the conflict must be joined, 
the responsibility of this issue rests not with us, wlio have ever acted 
upon the defensive; and that it is so disembarrassed and simple that 
the feeblest mind can understand it. 

"The question with the South to-day is not what issue shall she 
make, but how shall she meet that which is prepared for her? Is it 
possible that we can hesitate longer than a moment? In our natural 
recoil from the perils of revolution, and with our clinging fondness for 
the memories of the past, we may perhaps look around for something 
to soften the asperity of this issue, and for some ground on which we 
may defer the day of evil, for some hope that the gathering clouds may 
not burst in fury upon the land. 

"It is alleged, for example, that the President elect has been chosen 
by a fair majority under prescribed forms. But need I say, to those 
who have read history, that no despotism is more absolute than that 
of an unprincipled democracy, and no tyranny more galling than that 
exercised through constitutional formulas? But the plea is idle, when 
the very question we debate is the perpetuation of that Constitution now 
converted into an engine of oppression, and the continuance of that 
imion which is henceforth to be our condition of vassalage. I say 
it with solemnity and pain, this union of our forefathers is already gone. 
It existed but in mutual confidence, the bonds of which were ruptured 
in the late election. Though its form should be preserved, it is, in 
fact, destroyed. We may possibly entertain the project of reconstruct- 
ing it ; but it will be another union, resting upon other than past guaran- 
tees. *In that we say a new covenant we have made the first old, and 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 215 

that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish awa/ — 'as a 
vesture it is folded up.' For myself I say that, under the rule which 
threatens us, I throw off the yoke of this union as readily as did our 
ancestors the yoke of King George III., and for causes immeasurably 
stronger than those pleaded in their celebrated declaration. 

"It is softly whispered, too, that the successful competitor for the 
throne protests and avers his purpose to administer the government 
in a conservative and national spirit. Allowing him all credit for 
personal integrity in these protestations, he is, in this matter, nearly 
as impotent for good as he is competent for evil. He is nothing more 
than a figure upon the political chessboard — ^whether pawn or knight 
or king, will hereafter appear — ^but still a silent figure upon the check- 
ered squares, moved by the hands of an unseen player. That player 
is the party to which he owes his elevation — a party that has signalized 
its history by the most unblushing perjuries. What faith can be placed 
in the protestations of men who openly avow that their consciences are 
too sublimated to be restrained by the obligation of covenants or by 
the sanctity of oaths? No: we have seen the trail of the serpent five 
and twenty years in our Eden; twined now in the branches of the 
forbidden tree, we feel the pangs of death already begun as its hot 
breath is upon our cheeks, hissing out the original falsehood, 'Ye shall 
not surely die.' 

"Another suggests that even yet the Electors, alarmed by these- dem- 
onstrations of the South, may not cast the black ball which dooms 
their country to the executioner. It is a forlorn hope. Whether we 
should counsel such a breach of faith in them or take refuge in their 
treachery — whether such a result would give a President chosen by 
the people according to the constitution — are points I will not discuss. 
But that it would prove a cure for any of our ills, who can believe! 
It is certain that it would, with some show of justice, exasperate a 
party sufficiently ferocious; that it would doom us to four years of 
increasing strife and bitterness; and that the crisis must come at last 
under issues possibly not half so clear as the present. Let us not desire 
to shift the day of trial by miserable subterfuges of this sort. The issue 
is upon us; let us meet it like men and end this strife forever. 

"But some quietist whispers, yet further, this majority is accidental 
and has been swelled by accessions of men simply opposed to the ex- 
isting administration; the party is utterly heterogeneous and must be 
shivered into fragments by its own success. I confess, frankly, this 
suggestion has staggered me more than any other, and I sought to 
take refuge therein. Why should we not wait and see the effect of 
success itself upon a party whose elements might devour each other 
in the very distribution of the spoil? Two considerations have dis- 
sipated the , fallacy before me. The first is, that, however mixed the 
party, abolitionism is clearly its informing and actuating soul ; and fan- 
aticism is a bloodhound that never bolts its track when it has once 

2i6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

lapped blood. The elevation of their candidates is far from being the 
consummation of their aims. It is only the beginning of that con- 
summation; and, if all history be not a lie, there will be cohesion 
enough till the end of the beginning is reached, and the dreadful ban- 
quet of slaughter and ruin shall glut the appetite. The second consid- 
eration is a principle which I cannot blink. It is nowhere denied that 
the first article in the creed of the now dominant party is the restric- 
tion of slavery within its present limits. It is distinctly avowed by 
their organs and in the name of their elected chieftain; as will appear 
from the following extract from an article written to pacify the South 
and to reassure its fears : There can be no doubt whatever in the mind 
of any man, that Mr. Lincoln regards slavery as a moral, social and 
political evil, and that it should be dealt with as such by the Federal 
Government, in every instance where it is called upon to deal with it at 
all. On this point there is no room for question — and there need be no 
misgivings as to his official action. The whole influence of the Exec- 
utive Department of the Government, while in his hands, will be thrown 
against the extension of slavery into the new territories of the Union, 
and the re-opening of the African slave trade. On these points he 
will make no compromise nor yield one hair's breadth to coercion from 
any quarter or in any shape. He does not accede to the alleged de- 
cision of the Supreme G)urt, that the Constitution places slaves upon 
the footing of other property, and protects them as such wherever its 
jurisdiction extends, nor will he be, in the least degree, governed or 
controlled by it in his executive action. He will do all in his power, 
personally and officially, by the direct exercise of the powers of his 
office, and the indirect influence inseparable from it, to arrest the 
tendency to make slavery national and perpetual, and to place it in 
precisely the same position which it held in the early days of the Re- 
public, and in the view of the founders of the Government.' 

"Now what enigmas may be couched in this last sentence — the 
sphinx which uttered them can perhaps resolve; but the sentence in 
which they occur is as big as the belly of the Trojan horse which laid 
the city of Priam in ruins. 

"These utterances we have heard so long that they fall stale upon 
the ear; but never before have they had such significance. Hitherto 
they have come from Jacobin conventicles and pulpits, from the ros- 
trum, from the hustings, and from the halls of our national Congress : 
but always as the utterances of irresponsible men or associations of 
men. But now the voice comes from the throne; already, before clad 
with the sanctities of office, ere the anointing oil is poured upon the 
monarch's head, the decree has gone forth that the institution of 
Southern slavery shall be constrained within assigned limits. Though 
nature and Providence should send forth its branches like the banyan 
tree, to take root in congenial soil, here is a power superior to both, 
that says it shall wither and die within its own charmed circle. 



Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 217 

"What say you to this, to whom this great providential trust of con-- 
serving slavery is assigned? 'Shall the throne of iniquity have fel- 
lowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?' It is this that 
makes the crisis. Whether we will or not, this is the historic moment 
when the fate of this institution hangs suspended in the balance. De- 
cide either way, it is the moment of our destiny — ^the only thing affected 
by the decision is the complexion of that destiny. If the South bows 
before this throne, she accepts the decree of restriction and ultimate 
extinction, which is made the condition of her homage. 

"As it appears to me, the course to be pursued in this emergency 
is that which has already been inaugurated. Let the people in all 
the Southern States, in solemn council assembled, reclaim the powers 
they have delegated. Let those conventions be composed of men whose 
fidelity has been approved — ^men who bring the wisdom, experience and 
fimmess of age to support and announce principles which have long 
been matured. Let these conventions decide firmly and solemnly what 
they will do with this great trust committed to their hands. Let them 
pledge each other in sacred covenant, to uphold and perpetuate what 
they cannot resign without dishonor and palpable ruin. Let them 
further, take all the necessary steps looking to separate and independent 
existence; and initiate measures for framing a new and homogeneous 
confederacy. Thus, prepared for every contingency, let the crisis come. 
Paradoxical as it may seem, if there be any way to save, or rather to 
re-construct, the union of our forefathers it is this. Perhaps, at the 
last moment, the conservative portions of the North may awake to 
see the abyss into which they are about to plunge. Perchance they 
may arise and crush out forever the abolition hydra, and cast it into 
a grave from which there shall never be a resurrection. 

"Thus, with restored confidence, we may be rejoined a united and 
happy people. But, before God, I believe that nothing will effect this 
but the line of policy which the South has been compelled in self-pres- 
ervation to adopt. I confess frankly, I am not sanguine that such an 
auspicious result will be reached. Partly, because I do not see how 
new guarantees are to be grafted upon the Constitution, nor how, 
if grafted, they can be more binding than those which have already 
been trampled under foot; but chiefly, because I do not see how such 
guarantees can be elicited from the people at the North. It cannot 
be disguised that almost to a man they are anti-slavery where they 
are not abolition. A whole generation has been educated to look upon 
the system with abhorrence as a national blot. They hope, and look, 
and pray for its extinction within a reasonable time, and cannot be 
satisfied unless things are seen drawing to that conclusion. We, on 
the contrary, as its constituted guardians, can demand nothing less 
than that it should be left open to expansion, subject to no limitations 
save those imposed by God and nature. I fear the antagonism is too 
great, and the conscience of both parties too deeply implicated to allow 

2i8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

such a composition of the strife. Nevertheless since it is within the 
range of possibility in the Providence of God, I would not shut out the 

"Should it fail, what remains but that we say to each other, calmly 
and kindly, what Abraham said to Lot: 'Let there be no strife, I pray 
thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen, 
for we be brethren: Is not the whole land before thee? Separate 
thyself, I pray thee, from me ... if thou wilt take the left hand, then I 
will go to the right, or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go 
to the left' Thus, if we cannot save the Union, we may save the in- 
estimable blessings it enshrines; if we cannot preserve the vase, we 
will preserve the precious liquor it contains. 

"In all this I speak for the North no less than for the South; for 
upon our united and determined resistance at this moment depends 
the salvation of the whole country — in saving ourselves we shall save 
the North from the ruin she is madly drawing down upon her own head. 

"The position of the South is at this moment sublime. If she has 
grace given her to know her hour she will save herself, the country, 
and the world. It will involve, indeed, temporary prostration and dis- 
tress; the dykes of Holland must be cut to save her from the troops 
of Philip. But I warn my countrymen the historic moment once passed, 
never returns. If she will arise in her majesty, and speak now as with 
the voice of one man, she will roll back for all time the curse that is 
upon her. If she succumbs now, she transmits that curse as an heir- 
loom of posterity. We may, for a generation, enjoy comparative ease, 
gather up our feet in our beds, and die in peace; but our children will 
go forth beggared from the homes of their fathers. Fishermen will 
cast their nets where your proud commercial navy now rides at anchor, 
and dry them upon the shore now covered with your bales of merchan- 
dise. Sapped, circumvented, undermined, the institutions of your 
soil will be overthrown; and within five and twenty years the history 
of St. Domingo will be the record of Louisiana. If dead men's bones 
can tremble, ours will move under the muttered curses of sons and 
daughters, denouncing the blindness and love of ease which have left 
them an inheritance of woe. 

"I have done my duty under as deep a sense of responsibility to God 
and man as I have ever felt. Under a full conviction that the salvation 
of the whole country is depending upon the action of the South, I 
am impelled to deepen the sentiment of resistance in the Southern 
mind and to strengthen the current now flowing toward a union of the 
South in defence of her chartered rights. It is a duty which I shall 
not be called to repeat, for such awful junctures do not occur twice 
in a century. Bright and happy days are yet before us; and before 
another political earthquake shall shake the continent, I hope to be 
'where the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary are at 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 219 

"It only remains to say, that whatever be the fortunes of the South, 
I accept them for my own. Bom upon her soil, of a father thus born 
before me — from an ancestry that occupied it while yet it was a part 
of England's possessions — she is in every sense my mother. I shall 
die upon her bosom — she shall know no peril, but it is my peril — no 
conflict, but it is my conflict — and no abyss of ruin, into which I shall 
not share her fall. May the Lord God cover her head in this her day 
of battie !" 

Says Mr. Wm. O. Rogers,* of this "sermon" : 

"It confirmed and strengthened those who were in doubt; it gave 
directness and energy to public sentiment — ^so that perhaps no other 
public utterance during that trying period of anxiety and hesitancy 
did so much to bring New Orleans city and the entire State of Louisi- 
ana squarely and fully to the side of secession and the Confederacy. 
The spacious auditorium of the First Presbyterian Church (of New 
Orleans) was crowded from floor to gallery. Many prominent members 
of all callings and professions were there. Many were halting between 
two opinions. New Orleans was a commercial city and had large 
interests with the North. It was cosmopolitah, and, particularly in its 
mercantile classes, related in many ways to cities of the North. 

"Contrary to his usual custom Dr. Palmer had written his sermon; 
and read it — slowly, carefully, with constrained voice — without a single 
gesture, without elevating his voice in any sentence during the hour of 
its delivery. The solemnity of the audience was very impressive. The 
calmness of the speaker was the calmness of deep emotion held in check 
by the solemnity of the occasion. The whole sceqe was a remarkable 
tribute to the intellectual and moral powers of the speaker. Sentences 
like the following, coming from a man so revered and esteemed, fell 
upon the hearing ear with great power — 'to protect and transmit our 
existing system of domestic servitude with the right, unchanged by man, 
to go and root itself wherever Providence and nature may carry it 
This trust we will discharge in the face of the worst possible peril. 
Though war be the aggregation of all evils yet should the madness 
of the hour appeal to the arbitration of the sword, we will not shrink 
even from the baptism of fire. If modern crusaders stand in serried 
ranks upon some plain of Esdraelon, there will we be in defence of 
our trust. Not till the last man has fallen, behind the last rampart, 

•Mr. Wm. O. Rogers, residing at Madison, N. J. in IQC4, 
wrote these words on June pth of that year, at our solicitation. He was 
an eye witness and an auditor of that which he describes. He was long 
a distinguished citizen of New Orleans, a member of Dr. Palmer's 
church, for many years a member of his session, and a close personal 
friend, a gentleman of great purity and dignity of character. 

220 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

shall it drop from our hands, and then only in surrender to the God 
who gave it* 

• •*■•■•••••• 

"It has been my good fortune to hear some of the great pulpit and 
political orators of my generation, but I cannot recall an occasion when 
the effect upon the audience was so profound. After the benediction, 
in solemn silence, no man speaking to his neighbor, the great congrega- 
tion of serious and thoughtful men and women dispersed; but after- 
wards the drums beat and the bugles sounded; for New Orleans was 
shouting for secession." 

An editorial in the Daily Delta, November 30, i860, says: 

"We will publish in Saturday's Delta the Thanksgiving sermon de- 
livered at the First Presbyterian Church yesterday by Dr. Palmer. 
All who heard that great discourse declare it to be the ablest ever 
delivered by its accomplished author. The manly and patriotic position 
taken by Dr. Palmer was such as was expected by those familiar with 
the frank and decided character of the great divine. Dr. Leacock, of 
Christ's Church, and the Rev. Mr. Henderson, were as decided as Dr. 
Palmer in their advocacy of Southern rights, and in their recommen- 
dations of resistance to Northern aggressions. The character of these 
discourses is too important to be disregarded. They are expressions 
of the profound and universal sentiments of the community — a senti- 
ment which forces itself into notice through every channel, and which 
is too powerful to be restrained by ordinary forms and conventionali- 
ties. Only a pressing sense of duty to the highest interests of that so- 
ciety of which our ministers of religion are in part the recognized 
guardians, could have compelled this seeming departure from the es- 
tablished customs of the pulpit. In addition to these considerations 
it must be remembered that the day was not the day devoted by custom 
or holy ordinance to religious service, but a day set apart by the 
governor of the State to be observed with reference to our secular con- 

Published on Saturday in the Delta, the sermon was repub- 
lished in the Sunday issue, December 2, i860. On the first 
page of this issue appears an article headed, "Dr. Palmer's 
Sermon on Thanksgiving Day : The Pulpit and the Times." 

Amongst other things the article says : 

"A great political emergency, long predicted by a few, long dreaded 
yet hoped against by many, and obstinately disbelieved by still more, 
has come upon us and scattered parties and the devices of politicians 
as a whirlwind scatters dust and rubbish. At such a time the voice 
of faction should be hushed. At such a time it is for the patriot, not 
the partisan, to come to the rescue of his imperiled country. At such 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 221 

a time the political catechism for Southern men is plain and simple: 
The South, her rights, her homes, her firesides, for life, for death, swear 
to defend them, whether the sky may become bright or stmless, whether 
the stars may appear or disappear, whether the gathering storm may 
roll away or burst in torrents of fire. 

"It is in an hour like this that patriotism rises to religion, and re- 
ligion derives new warmth and vigor from patriotism. That several 
of our clergymen preached sermons Thanksgiving Day under the in- 
fluence of such a spirit is no matter of surprise. It would have been 
surprising rather if they had not done so. Our clergymen, after all, 
are men and not mere automatic symbols of an abstract creed. It is 
too late to say that the question of negro slavery, which is made the 
issue upon which a sectional majority wage an unrelenting war against 
the South, should be excluded from the Southern pulpit because the 
pulpit has no business with politics. The moral question of negro 
slavery had already divided the greatest religious denominations in 
the Union before the political question of negro slavery began to break 
up parties and split the Union asunder. The anti-slavery idea began 
on moral grounds. It allied itself with an anti-Southern party to 
overcome political obstacles. The combination has thus far triumphed. 
The Constitution, which was in their way, is dead; the spirit is gone 
out of it; its corpse is in their possession. The corpse of the South 
will also be theirs, unless on the 4th of March the South shall lay the 
corpse of the Union at their feet. Having thus triumphed politically, 
the anti-slavery idea now resumes its original character as a moral 
question, and in that form is ready to do the deadly work of sectional 
despotism. Religion involves morality, and no moral question can justly 
be excluded from the pulpit And, therefore, when Dr. Palmer, on 
Thursday, took up the question between the North and the South, 
which turns on the anti-slavery idea, and showed that this idea was not 
only morally false, but was to be used as an instrument for overturning 
our whole social fabric and plunging us, and all that is dear to us, 
in an abyss of disgrace and ruin from which the imagination shrinks 
with terror — when he did this, he acted the part of a clergyman worthy 
of his calling; he acted the part of a Christian gentleman and scholar, 
of a Southern patriot, of a frank, earnest, brave, and a high souled man. 

"The discourse we refer to was perhaps about two hours long; and 
a more cogent, exhaustive, logical and impressive production of not 
greater length we never met with coming either from pulpit or rostrum. 
It rose far above the conventional forms and phrases of an ordinary 
sermon. It rose infinitely above the usual thought and rhetoric of a 
political speech. It was more than eloquent; it was sacramental in its 
fervor. But the language of praise is out of place in speaking of it. 
It is above compliment. It was an event of the time passing, and a sign 
of the time at hand. It will be sure to fire the hearts and stir the souls 
of Southern men wherever read, while through the glowing words 
God seems to whisper to them of noble deeds." 

222 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

In those days there was no Delta published on Monday. In 
Tuesday's Daily Delta, December 4, i860, the sermon appeared 
again; and amongst the editorial notes, the following: 

**Dr. Palmer's Sermon. — Scarcely any apology is necessary to be made 
to our readers on account of the republication of Dr. Palmer's Sermon, 
which appears, for the third time, in the Delta this morning. When we 
state that we reproduce it in accordance with the urgent request of a 
large member of our friends, and to supply a demand which seems yet 
far from exhausted, although the supply from this office alone has 
exceeded thirty thousand copies, we trust that no further explanation 
will be required." 

Nor must we think of this sermon as accessible only through 
the columns of the Delta; the papers of the city anci the State 
and the Southwest, generally, noticed it and published summar- 
ies of it, more or less complete, not a few perhaps, publishing 
the whole of it. Moreover, on the day of its delivery, the fol- 
lowing correspondence touching its publication in a different 
form took place: 

New Orleans, November 29, i860. 

"Rev. and Dear Sir: We doubt not that the discourse delivered by 
you this morning was influenced by a high sense of duty and responsi- 
bility. You felt that the times demanded its utterance. Many of us 
heard it delivered; others have been informed of its tenor. As your 
fellow citizens, we desire for your own sake that your views may not 
be misunderstood or misrepresented; for the community's sake, that it 
may see patently before it an argument squarely up to the occasion; 
for the nation's sake, that the opinions of a representative man may be 
read and pondered. We ask you for a copy, that it may be immediately 
published and widely circulated. 

"With sentiments of the highest regard, we remain 

"Your fellow citizens and friends, 

"William A. Elmore, W. R. Miles, J. J. Michie, J. R. Macmurdo, 
Thomas E. Adams, B. S. Tappan, R. P. Hunt, H. D. Ogden, A. C. 
Myers, David Bridges, A. A. Kennett, John A. French, John G. Gaines, 
William W. King, B. M. Pond, William G. Austin, John Claiborne, 
W. Rushton, A. C. Hensley, A. R. Ringgold, William .Bell, Robert 
Ward, Thomas Hunton, Charles A. Taylor, Levy Pearce, J. W. Watson, 
W. Henderson, S. Z. Relf, M. M. Simpson, C. Bell, Thomas Allen 

"Rev. B. M. Palmer, D.D., New Orleans." 

"New Orleans, November 29, i860. 
"Rev. B. M. Palmer, D.D. 
"Dear Sir: The undersigned, members of your congregation, be- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 223 

lieving and sympathizing in the sentiments of your eloquent address, 
delivered on this, 29th inst, Thanksgiving Day, and that it should he 
read by every citizen of the United States, beg you to furnish a copy 
for publication, and oblige, 

"Respectfully, your obedient Arvants, 
"H. T. Lonsdale, A. H. Gladden, R. B. Sumner, H. W. Conner, Jr., 
W. B. Ritchie, ^dward Dillon, George O. Sweet, William P. Campbell, 
Robert A Grinnan, S. W. Dalton." 

"New Orleans, November 29, i860. 
"To Messrs, H. T. Lonsdale, R. B. Sumner, A. H. Gladden, and others; 
and to Messrs, W, A. Elmore, W. G, Austin, W. R. Miles, and others: 
"Gentlemen: That two communications should be received from 
di£Ferent sources, requesting my discourse of this day for publication, 
is sufficient proof that I have spoken to the heart of this community. 
The sermon is herewith placed at your disposal, with the earnest de- 
sire that it may contribute something toward rallying our whole people 
to the issue that is upon us. 

"Respectfully and gratefully yours, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Accordingly a handsome pamphlet edition, probably a large 
one, was also scattered Broadcast over the land. 

There can be no question that throughout his belt — ^the 
South Carolina belt of influence — his "thanksgiving sermon" 
was generally regarded as correct in its theory of the subject 
discussed and suited to the crisis of the country; however, 
much doubt was entertained here and there as to tiie propriety 
of a Gospel minister's expressing all these views in God's house. 

The divisive consequences which usually flow from politi- 
cal preaching were not wanting. A few of his people broke 
with him that day, though it came near to breaking their hearts 
to do it. The time came when the wisdom of his course in 
preaching that sermon seemed less apparent ; indeed, he is said 
to have repented preaching the discourse, though the day never 
came when he took an essentially different view of the great 
subject discussed. 

His domestic relations during these years were not without 
lines of interest. Before the removal of his family to New 
Orleans he established their home first in a house on the cor- 
ner of St. Joseph and St. Charles streets. They lived here, 
however, but one year, moving thence to the corner of Thalia 
and Prytania streets. In this house they lived for two years. 
Here in the summer of 1858 the yellow fever found them. 
Their household, including servants, numbered twelve persons 

224 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

at the time. Out of the twelve, eleven members of the house- 
hold had the fever. The first to have it was Mrs. Palmer ; her 
case was very bad. About the same time, Mr. Axson, a cousin 
of Dr. Palmer and at the time a member of the household, was 
aflfected with the disorder. Mrs. Palmer and Mr. Axson were 
scarcely convalescent when the children and the servants were 
seized by it. Their cases were relatively mild, however. Dr. 
Palmer was the last of his family to take it. He had been 
going heroically about, ministering to the sick in his own 
house and to the sick and dying of the city, with apparent 
impunity. But, late in October, when all were looking hope- 
fully forward to the coming of the blessed frost and when his 
friends were beginning to feel that he would pass through 
the pestilence untouched, he, too, was taken. His case was bad ; 
he was exceedingly ill. 

The Old School Assembly of 1858 had met in New Orleans. 
It was in this home that Dr. Palmer had received and enter- 
tained the distinguished men whom that Assembly had brought 
to his doors : such as A. T. McGill, Cortland Van Rensaelaer, 
Lewis W. Green, R. J. Breckenridge, Wm. J. Hoge, George 
Howe, L S. K. Axson, etc., of the ministers, and elders of 
scarcely less note. 

In 1859, the congregation purchased for a manse the com- 
modious mansion now numbered 1415 Prytania Street (63 
old Prytania) . Here the family was to live, while in New Or- 
leans, till 1 89 1. The house was an excellent one for its day, 
three stories, with ceilings of ample pitch, with large rooms, 
and abundant offices and quarters in the rear for the accommo- 
dation of a considerable number of servants. After its further 
adaptation, in 1866, to Dr. Palmer's needs, by the addition 
of a study at the side, it was a most desirable domicile and 
well suited for the uses and character of the most distinguished 
pastor of his city and his section. The dignity of its spacious 
parlors and chambers, the solid mahogany staircase and folding 
doors impress the visitor of to-day. 

This house was to be the scene of much happiness, of a 
high rational and spiritual order. It was to be the scene of 
much sorrow, which would not, however, be overwhelming. 
The Palmers were not to sorrow as those who have no hope. 
One of the daughters was to be married in this house. All 
of his grandchildren were to be born there. From the same 
house three of his daughters were to be carried to the grave. 


Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 225 

There was a fine side yard with some splendid trees in it, from 
which, as from all he looked upon in his daily life, Dr. Palmer 
is said to have drawn some noble illustrations for use in the 

This house was to be the home not only of his own immedi- 
ate family but of many others whom he would yearn to help. 
"He always had some who needed help in his house, boys or 
girls, young men or young women." 

It was his custom to declare that he had left the business 
of disciplining his children to his wife ; that he had made only 
two attempts at disciplining thjcm and had been forced to 
conclude that Mrs. Palmer was better adapted to that form 
of ministry than he was. One of these fruitless attempts was 
to secure obedience from his little boy, on occasion of an 
issue's having been made between them. The other was to 
teach one of his little girls her letters. Mrs. Palmer seems to 
have been wise and skillful 4n the management of her children. 
Her husband felt that he might safely leave the matter in her 
hands. The relegation of other forms of attention to his 
children, even to his best beloved, he would never make. He 
was a most affectionate father ; and as interested as affection- 
ate. He counted not his time too valuable to be g^ven in due 
measure to his children's development. 

In 1857, in order to their escaping the scourge of yellow 
fever, he sent his wife and children back to Columbia to pass 
the summer. The living children were all girls. They were 
Sarah Frances, bom September 19, 1844; Mary Howe, born 
September i, 1847; Augusta Barnard, bom June 23, 1849; 
Kate Gordon, born August 23, 1853 ; Marion Louisa, born Jan- 
uary 10, 1856. Once each week he would write to one of his 
daughters. He began by writing to the oldest. Between her 
and himself quite a correspondence developed. All these letters 
to his children are redolent of the happiest family life. Some 
of them are valuable not only for the glimpse they afford of 
that life but for incidental light thrown on other aspects of 

his life: 

"New Orleans, June 29, 1857. 
"My Dear Fanny: I do not know whether you will be expecting a 
letter from father; but I am very sure you will be very glad to receive 
one, and to know from it how fondly you are remembered and loved. 
It is a long time since there was an opportunity of writing you, simply 
because of late we have not been separated ; and you are now grown into 
such a big girl and have so improved yourself by study, that I may 


226 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

write to you very much as I would to mother, without striving after 
unusual simplicity of style — ^such as I must use for Mary and Gussie 
that they may easily understand me. 

"It frightens me almost to think how fast you are growing up into 
a woman. Almost thirteen nowl Why we shall only turn round two 
or three times before you will be a young lady, and I of course must 
begin to try and feel old. Be assured, my dear daughter, I am not 
anxious to have it so. If it were possible, I should like to keep you all 
children for many years just as you are now, so that the house might 
always be stmny and glad, as you children make it now. But as this 
cannot be, I am only anxious that you should rapidly improve your 
mind, and get that knowledge which as a woman you will need, in 
order to be happy and useful yourself, and that you may be honored 
and loved by others. Mother writes me that you have commenced 
your French and drawing. I am glad of it, provided you are not too 
closely confined. You have been kept very close all winter, and have 
studied very faithfully at school and I am desirous that you should 
romp and play, so as to be strong for study next winter. Still, you may 
learn a little French with ease, so that you and I can follow it uq. and 
talk it together, as I am a learner, too. The drawing too will be a 
pleasant amusement; and will keep alive your talent for that beautiful 
art. It is my wish, if God spares my life, to make you an accomplished 
lady, but of course, very much will depend upon you. I am willing 
to spend money freely for your good ; but all the teachers and masters 
in the world cannot benefit you, unless you put your mind earnestly 
to it and determine to profit by their instructions. But, my darling, if 
I am anxious to have you wise and learned, this is nothing to the in- 
tense desire I have to see you pious and good. Oh, my daughter, you 
do not know how many thoughts I have on this subject; and how often 
and fervently I pray that God would give you a new heart. Do you 
remember two years ago this very month when you were so ill, how 
alarmed you were; how you talked with me, and told me you were 
afraid to die because you felt that you were not ready? I hoped when 
you got well, that you would remember all this; and that you would 
be so grateful to God for sparing your life, as to give him your heart 
at once. But I was disappointed — ^you got well, and then forgot all 
these solemn things. I do not know how much you think about your 
soul, and whether you pray fervently for a new heart But I am 
afraid you do not: and you are now two years older, and know more 
than you did then. If you should be taken sick and die as you are, 
it would make me miserable the rest of my life; and though you did 
not know it, it was as much to remove all risk from you (as aught else), 
that I was willing to send you all from me this summer. I said, who 
can tell but God will hear my prayer and give her a new heart before 
next summer, and then I will not fear for my dear child's soul as I do 
now. Dear, dear Fanny, will you not think about these things — 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 227 

think what a wicked heart you have — ^that unless it is changed, you can- 
not go to heaven — ^that you may die any moment,, and be lost forever ? 
Think, too, how ready Christ is to save you, if you will only go to him 
— and then delay not — go at once to him, my daughter, and be saved 
through his grace. 

** I have now filled my sheet and must stop, though it is so small that 
it will not allow a long talk at one time. Tell Grandmother and Grand- 
father, Emily, Archie and George all 'Howdye' for me, and kiss mother 
and sisters in my stead. I would be glad if you would write me a letter, 
even though it should be a great deal shorter than this. Just to hear 
you say 'dear Father* will do me good in my loneliness. Good-bye. 

"Your ever-loving father, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

"New Orleans^ Saturday, July 4, 1857. 

"My Dear Little Molly: A few days ago I wrote a letter to Sister 
Fanny: and as Papa loves all his little daughters just alike, he must 
try to write in turn to each one that is old enough to understand what 
he says. Dear little Marion, for example, could hardly read a letter, 
or know its meaning if mother should read it to her; so she will be 
satisfied if I only send a kiss, which you or Mama may give her for 
me: only be sure to tell her that it is Papa's kiss, not Mam/s. Sweets 
Kate, too, cannot read, you know; but she has sense enough to under- 
stand every word of a little, wee-wee letter, if mother reads it care- 
fully to her; so, dear little soul, she shall come in for her share after 
a while. You see that I begin at the top and go down regularly to 
the bottom. Fanny being the oldest daughter stands at the head of 
my little class: you come next; and Gussie, because a little younger, 
comes next to you; and then Katy, last. Marion must be content yet 
awhile to snug up to Mama's bosom, and enjoy her teat-tie. 

"I was sorry, dear sweet Mol, to learn from one of Mother's letters 
that you were not very well: that poor little head of yours aches oftener 
than I would have it do — and that little body, too, is so thin and lean. 
I am afraid it has not juice enough in it. Well, you must eat and play 
— ^then you must play and eat — take a plenty of sleep besides : and so by 
dint of eating, playing and sleeping, you will perhaps grow fat and 
strong, and be ready for school next winter and bring me such good 
reports as you did last winter, with ever so many extra credits, and 
without any checks. Fanny used to be thin and puny, just as you are 
now; and I hope, by and by, you will change and become hearty and 
plump, too: all in good time, if we are only patient, and do what is 

"How does the music come on? Mother has not said a word about 
that in any of her letters. Sometimes, I fancy the piano is going down- 
stairs ; and I stop to listen for the duet : — ah then, it comes l>ack to me, 
that the little fingers of my two sweet musicians are a thousand miles 
off, and that no breeze that blows is strong enough to bring so far the 

228 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

delightful notes which I would like so much to hear. Still I hope 
Grandmother hears them sometimes, and is right glad that she has such 
little dears by her to love and pet. I take it for granted, you see, that 
you behave very good, so that Grandmother can pet and love — not 
exactly take for granted either: because Mother said, in a letter, that 
the children were behaving very well indeed — and this made me so 
very happy, that if I could do it, I would hug and kiss you all in turn. 
It pleases me, too, that in every letter I get Mother has not been 
obliged to take back her good word, but on the contrary leaves me to 
believe that all my daughters are pleasant and well-behaved. This 
makes me glad, and, just a little, proud of my girls, whom I want every 
body to love. Do you wish to know the secret of being loved? I will 
tell you, in a little story about Dr. Doddridge's daughter. She was a 
sweet girl whom everybody fondled and praised. Her father said 
to her one day, *Mary, my daughter, why is it that everybody loves 
you so?* And she answered very quickly, *I do not know, Papa, unless 
it is because I love everybody.' Ahl that is the great secret: You 
love me, and I'll love you — ^isn't that fair? Remember this now, my 
pet, all your life: be always kind and loving; and the love of others 
will always rest upon you, fresh and sweet, like the dew upon a rose- 
bud. There is one above all others whose love I wish my Mary to 
enjoy. Can you guess who that is? It is God, my child: I pray to 
God every day that he would love you. But how can he love you with 
a proud and wicked heart? Ask him to give you a better heart so 
that he may love you tenderly : I mean a heart that will love him in re- 
turn. Would it not be strange if you did not love your father and 
mother, who have always been so kind to you? But is not God much 
kinder than they are? Does he not give you everything, even those 
very parents who cherish you, and those sweet sisters with whom you 
are so happy all the time? You are old enough now to think about 
the blessed Savior that died for us; and to pray for a new heart, with 
which to love him forever. But I must stop now. Kiss Mother for me 
and all the sisters from Fanny down to Marion, and Grandmother, and 
all whom you and I love. Good-bye, 

"Your loving father, 

"B. M. Palmer." 
"This is the 4th of July — it is very noisy in the streets. The soldiers 
are out parading, and one very handsome company has just passed by 
the door, called the Continentals. Ask Fanny if she can tell who the 
Continentals were and why people make so much noise on the 4th of 
July, the men with their cannon, and the boys with crackers? If she 
cannot, ask Grandfather, and then watch how his big chest will swell 
as he tells you a long and bright story of the old time when heroes 
lived. You will read it for yourself, by and by." 

"New Orleans, Monday, July 13, 1857. 
"Come here, Katy Darling: and stand by Mother's knee, and with 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 229 

those two bright black eyes see a whole letter written to my Jittle 
girl, and all of it to herself. What a pity you cannot read it! Then 
you would snatch it away, and run off into a corner all alone, and 
nobody, not even Mama, should know a word, until you had drunk all 
the freshness out of it with those two black eyes. Well, one of these 
days you will be able to read all the letters that come to you, and to 
write you own besides — and perhaps one of these days, a long way off 
I hope, you will get letters from some sweetheart or other, that will 
read finer than Papa's: and, I guess when that day comes, you will 
have the reading of those letters all to yourself. But just now, you 
will be obliged to read this with Mama's eyes, and she will have to 
tell you all that is in it: and I fancy I can see you now listening 
and laughing as Mother goes slowly and carefully over these lines. 

"I wonder what I can find to write about, that my little Katy will 
care to hear. Shall I attempt to tell her how much Father loves his 
darling? I could only say, as you used to say, when you hugged me 
round my neck, 'with all my heart,* and then you would be apt to 
answer, 'Oh, Pal I know all that already: tell me something new. Is 
there any use to sit down and write a letter to go a great way off, 
just to tell somebody you love them very much?' Ah! my daughter, 
when you get bigger you will find out that the oldest things are 
always the sweetest Isn't that funny? Yet so it is. Ask Mama if 
she ever gets tired hearing Father say he loves her, although she has 
been hearing it almost eighteen years. I reckon if she hears it for 
eighteen years to come, it will be just as new as ever. So you see, 
some old things always keep new, and love is one of them. So Father 
will say it over again, that he loves little Katy darling 'more than 
tongue can tell,' and he longs to see her, to take her up in his arms, 
and kiss her; and to hear her sweet merry voice chirping about the 
house like a canary, only a great deal sweeter and softer. Enough, 
however, of love for this time! 

"Shall I tell you all about my visit over the lake? How I got into 
a big boat that went pufijng and blowing like a great whale through 
the water? — and came in the evening to a beautiful beach, and went up 
to a fine house, with a nice plat of green grass stretching out in front? 
And how I rode on a beautiful horse, and sailed in an elegant boat 
that swam like a duck, and fished but caught nothing but some miser- 
able good-for-nothing catfish. By the way let me tell you about the 
horse I rode. He was a great pet of his young master, who taught him 
to do all sorts of funny things. He would come and eat sugar out of 
his hand, and then he would lie down upon the grass by him, and if 
you go up to him and say, 'How d'ye do, Noty,' he will take up his 
big hoof and put it in your hand as reasonable as any man that wants 
to shake hands. I never saw such a funny horse but once before : and 
that one would carry his master's cigar to the kitchen and bring it back 
lighted for him. 

230 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"Maum Maria has just come in to say that I must send her love to 
Mama and all the children, and to your Maumma and that all the black 
people send their respects to her besides. Be sure now to deliver this 
message, as Maria was very particular in giving it to me. Maria takes 
good care of Father — on Saturday, besides an excellent dinner, she got 
at market some soft peaches, and a muskmelon for dessert, so that with 
a plenty of sweet figs and a little milk, I made out capitally. We are 
very lucky in getting such a cook. Mr. Markham stayed with me last 
night, and is sitting down at the breakfast table with me. He sends 
love to everybody, and a special kiss to Katy. Tell Mother that every 
Sunday night I go up to the Campbells' or Blacks' after preaching, 
and get a nice plate of clabber and sometimes of peaches and milk. 
Mrs. Campbell sends her love, and little Palmer is better. 

"Good-bye, now, my daughter. Be a good little grirl and mind every- 
thing Mother and Grandmother say to you. Kiss them both for me, 
and kiss dear little Marion, and don't let her forget her Papa that 
she used to love so much. 

"Your loving father, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

"New Orleans, July 16, 1857. 

"My Dear Fanny: I received some days ago your sweet letter, for 
which I owe you many thanks; especially as you wrote of your own 
accord, and before mine to you had time to come to hand. It is very 
pleasant to have such mutual recognition, when absent from one an- 
other; so that the letters pass each other on the road, showing that 
without concert, each party is thinking of the other at almost the 
same moment. There are very few hours of the day when Father's 
thoughts do not wander off to Columbia, up and down its shady streets, 
and linger about Grandmother's house, which contains just now all 
his earthly treasures; and it is very comforting to know that amid all 
your sports and joys, you send off now and then a stray thought to 
look me up in these lonely bachelor quarters where I am now, as gloomy 
as a ship at quarantine. 

"I must give you credit, too, for having written a very excellent letter. 
I read it over and over, with a good deal of satisfaction and pride.* 
The handwriting was uncommonly fine, showing that you will soon, 
with a little pains, make a capital penwoman: and the style was easy 
and flowing, so that you will one of these days make a superb letter 
writer. Do not say Pshaw! to all this: for when we do well, it is 
right to be praised; and we may take it modestly and be encouraged. 
By the way, Mrs. Bartlett begs you to write to her. She says, she 
tried to make you promise to do so, but could not succeed. She will 
excuse all mistakes; and if you are afraid of making any, you might 
get Mother to correct your letter and then copy it off. But write to 
me, my child, if you make a thousand errors; for Father's eye will 
look very forgivingly upon them for the love which prompts you to 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 231 

write at all, and besides, this is the best way to improve. You would 
laugh, almost to kill yourself, if you could hear my blunders in French 
with Mr. Guillet; and yet we rattle on, just as though it was all right. 
A Frenchman, you know, is too polite to laugh at anybody; and yet 
I see Mr. Quillet's mustache twitching every now and then, as though 
it would do him good to take a hearty laugh. 

"The mosquitos are beginning to be veiy bad. Hitherto they have 
not troubled me much, and I had begun to think they were not worse 
than in Columbia. But they sting and bite now pretty sharply, and 
keep my feet in a fever all day long. I am afraid I shall have to take 
to boots again, which I have pretty well discarded, as they trouble 
my feet more than hands or face. At night I bid them defiance in my 

'Tell Mother Tom has gone to a large dinner party to-day, and ask 
her if she does not think this is a new kink, quite 'a getting up stairs,' 
or at least high life in the kitchen. She will scold me for being so 
indulgent; but Tom has really been so well-behaved that I was disposed 
to grant him this dispensation, and I am a soft body anyhow, that can't 
say no, perhaps when I ought. 

"I hope, dear Fanny, that among you all you will not allow little 
Marion to forget to say Papa, and that she will not fail to recognize 
me when I come on. I do miss the dear little toad so much : and fancy 
sometimes when I come into the room that she is running for my slip- 
pers, and seating me in the chair. You cannot imagine how much 
happiness Mother and I feel in the dear children; and what hopes we 
have of them, that they will be useful and pious. You must all try 
not to disappoint us. 

"I wish you were here to get some of this good fruit. Everybody 
is sending me plates of figs, till I am overrun with them; they are the 
sweetest I ever ate. Maria manages to provide me a muskmelon for 
my breakfast every morning, and a good plate of soft peaches for my 
dinner, so that I fare rather luxuriously ; but the fruit would be sweeter 
if shared with those I love. Kiss dear Mother for me and Grand- 
mother, and all the sisters, and tell all the servants 'Howdye,' and love 
to Emily and the rest Write again to me and cheer me up. 

"Your ever-loving father, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

"New Orleans, Wednesday, July 29, 1857. 
"My Dear Daughter: It was with great delight I broke the seal of 
your letter written on the 24th, although from the direction on the 
back I at first supposed it was from your mother. It makes, however, 
an agreeable variety to receive sometimes a letter from you as well 
as from her: and you shall not go without your reward for the efiPort 
you make toward a correspondence. You shall always have a speedy 
answer, as often as you may write; if only to convince you how great 

232 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

is the satisfaction I derive from every love note you dispatch to your 
lonesome father. 

"I am sorry to hear that your eye is still painful ; and I have already 
written to your mother that you had better intermit all your studies, 
until it is entirely well. You must be careful not to try it too much, 
as this keeps up the irritation and prevents its restoration. It is better 
that French, drawing and music should all go by the board for a time, 
than that you should be disabled from all study by a lasting weakness 
of eyesight. The next five years of your life are of unspeakable im- 
portance to you, since they are the years in which you are to obtain your 
education. What you are to be through life, and indeed what you are 
to be through all eternity, will depend upon what you shall learn during 
these five years. I would not, therefore, for a great deal, have any 
serious obstacle put in your way, as I am ambitious that you shall 
grow up a very cultivated woman, and be a praise to your parents 
when they are old. As I have no son, I must make the more of my 
daughters; and if possible, I would like them to be as learned as I 
would have striven to make Blakely, if it had pleased God to spare 
him to us. It will all depend upon yourselves ; for I will spare no ex- 
pense and no labor to secure you the best advantages the country can 
afford. And I feel the greatest confidence that I shall obtain my reward 
in seeing all my girls both pious and elegant women; fitted to shine 
in society, and be abundantly useful and happy in their day. 

"I am making some progress in my French, though Mons. Guillet 
keeps me drilling in the phrases and idioms of the language, and does 
not yet permit me to read. It will be a help to me, if you should be 
able to jabber it when we meet; and I think all next winter, we may 
learn it together. It will be such fun to laugh over our own mistakes; 
and after a while, we will be able to speak it as correctly as any live 
Frenchman in New Orleans. If, too, I should conclude to employ a 
governess, who speaks it well, that will be a great advantage — for she 
will come to our help whenever we break down. How do you like 
the idea of a teacher at home, instead of going to school? Would you 
prefer to have a teacher all to yourself, and arrange your studies ac- 
cording to your own notions ? or would you rather go to school, where 
you can meet with other girls? Everything will depend, I judge, upon 
the kind of governess we get — ^but you can form some idea of it, from 
seeing how it works in Mr. Bryce's family, over the way. Write and 
tell me what you think about this, for I would like to please you. 

"I wish, my dear daughter, that in answering my letter, you had 
told me about your religious feeling^ — ^it would have given you some- 
thing to write about; and I would have been so glad to know exactly 
how you feel on that most important of all subjects. Can it be, my 
darling, that you never think about that soul of yours, which is des- 
tined to live forever and ever? that you are not sometimes distressed, 
when you remember that you are totally unprepared to die; and yet 


at any moment you may be called away? Oh, do think about this 
sometimes ; and if you ever feel anxious to be saved, do not hide it all 
up in your heart, as if it was something to be ashamed of. But rather 
make a friend of your mother and of your father, who desire nothing 
so much as to see you one of God's children. I cannot tell you how 
anxious I am about your salvation; how earnestly I loi^ to see you a 
Christian. Do not put it off, but give yourself over to the Savior, and 
love and serve him while you are young. Kiss Mother and all the 
sisters for me, and Grandmother, too— and Emily and all the rest — 
and believe me 

"Your ever-loving father, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

During this, as during previous periods of his life, he gave 
himself to the beneficent function of comforting the bereaved, 
by letters of condolence. A specimen of these is presented in 
the following, to Mrs. Bazile Lanneau on the death of her son 
Benjamin Palmer Lanneau: 

"New Orleans^ June 16, 1857. 

"My Dear Cousin : I have just returned from a hurried visit to Caro- 
lina to deposit my family for the summer beyond the range of the 
epidemic fever of this climate. On passing the depot at Greensboro, 
Ga., I had a glimpse of Cousin Rebecca, whom Randolph had advised 
of my movements, and from her I received the first intelligence of 
the recent heavy affliction which has fallen upon you. Indeed, your 
cup is full to overflowing; and I cannot forbear taking up the pen if 
only to utter words of sympathy. Conscience has twinged me more 
than once for neglecting to write you under the first of your trials; 
but up to the last moment before leaving Carolina I cherished the hope 
of running down to Charleston and of mingling my tears with yours 
at your own fireside. Upon reaching New Orleans I was at once 
plunged many fathoms deep in a sea of care, and became absorbed in 
the duties of my first and most trying season in a new field. 

"I may, too, as well confess to a peculiar repugnance to letters of 
condolence, and seldom indite one without a painful sense of mockery. 
Were not Job's friends less 'miserable comforters' when they sat down 
with him in the ashes and covered their heads seven days and seven 
nights — than when their pathetic silence was broken by their long and 
garrulous discourse? I may perhaps misjudge, having never yet been 
called to experience that sorrow which cuts down through the soul to 
the very quick; but it has always seemed to me that in the very first 
access of severe bereavement before the heart has had time to recover 
from the first blight of its devastation all sympathy is sheer imperti- 
nence and mockery. This intrusion of one's nearest friend would be 
repelled in the impatient exclamation, 'How long wilt thou not depart 
from me and let me alone, until I swallow my spittle.* 

234 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"It was the possession of this sentiment which has especially re- 
strained me till now. If my pen could only have wept silently with 
you without mocking you with words its service should not have been 
withheld" I knew too well the worth of your dear husband — the frank 
and manly character which won all hearts to him in confidence. I 
knew too well his worth to you : how much he was the head and center 
of your home, and the worshipful reverence with which you loved him, 
through these thirty years, and I said if all the world besides were 
thrown in could it fill that chasm made in your heart by such a death? 
I felt not : and therefore I would not break in upon the sanctity of your 
grief. Nature will have her pangs: and it was better to leave you in 
the melancholy luxury of solitary sorrow while for a time I should 
sit down outside the door and pray the Comforter to sustain and cheer 

"But, my sweet cousin, it has pleased the Lord again to bruise you. 
Before the tears of your widowhood were dry the fresh tears of a 
bereaved mother fell fast upon the pale body of your second bom. 
Your afflictions, like your past mercies, come to you in the cluster; 
their bitter juices you must squeeze and drain to the last drop. How 
shall earth comfort you now unless it cast forth and restore to you 
its dead? I can measure your loss thus far to know that a covenant 
God can alone be your friend now. What can your home henceforth 
ever be but a broken home, and what can you carry to the grave but 
a stricken heart bleeding every day in fresh remembrance of your dead ? 
And what can I do for you but weep with you in the church-yard — ^the 
only spot where at last all heads shall cease to throb and all hearts 
cease to break! 

"Yet heavy as your double bereavement is, there are surpassing con- 
solations in it, too, which you will soon, if you do not already, appreciate. 
The husband was spared through all these years till his dependent 
children are grown into strength to buffet with the world, and the 
son through short pains, is spared that dying life which his disease 
would have insured to him. You can look back upon the long life of 
usefulness in the one — ^filled with zeal for the Master's glory and with 
labors for the Church of Christ whose vacant place will long remind 
the Church how great the loss she, no less than you, has sustained. 
In the other an early Christian hope has flowered at once into the full 
enjoyment of heaven. You have the comfort of knowing that neither 
of them is lost to you, but only saved to you forever. Ah, my cousin, 
it is the eternal parting that has a sting. If that be spared us surely 
we can bear the interval of separation when we shall join them to part 
no more. 

"So far, our whole family in all its branches and generations is 
safely gathered — our parents and children alike, and a blissful meeting 
awaits us, when they shall welcome us above. And may we not take 
this in hopeful pledge that so it will continue to be through a long fu- 

Ante-Bellum Period in New Orleans. 235 

ture, our God being the God of our children and of our children's 
children in all their generations? For my own part I shall never 
grieve over any of my blood whom God takes to heaven. I did not shed 
a tear for my mother. I do not think I shall for my father. The one 
reigning and comforting thought is — that another is safely gathered into 
rest. But none of these reflections is new to you and I have not de- 
signed to play the comforter. 'There is a friend that sticketh closer 
than a brother* into whose ear I am sure you have poured all your sor- 
rows, and whose tender sympathy sustains you in moments when you 
droop. The disciples of the Baptist took up his body and buried it, 
and 'went and told Jesus.* This is what you have done, and I will not 
come in with my poor words between you and that friend. I wish you 
could know how much I have always loved and reverenced you, my 
dear cousin, that I have never thought of you but it has warmed my 
heart — how the sight of your patient, cheerful face in the midst of 
family cares and toils has often given me courage to go out and be a 
true man in life. If you knew all this you would know how truly I 
have felt your grief and how gladly I would lighten your burdens. 
"God bless you and yours forever more. 

"Yours affectionately, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

The Old School Assembly of i860 elected Dr. Palmer to 
the chair of Pastoral Theology and Sacred Rhetoric in Prince- 
ton Theological Seminary, giving him two hundred and thirty- 
seven votes, all the votes cast. This was no small compliment 
and was probably received as such. But there is no evidence 
that he gave this call any particular consideration. His mind 
had been long made up that his place was in the pastorate. 




Hard for Southern Clergymen to Steer Clear of Political Preach- 
ing IN 1861. — Some Political Preaching on Dr. Palmer's Part. — 
The Political Work of the Old School Assembly of 1861. — 
The Consequent Action of the Presbytery of New Orleans^ 
Looking to the Establishment of the Presbyterian Church in 
THE Confederate States of America. — ^In the Augusta Assem- 
bly, December, 1861. — His Services to the First Presbyterian 
Church of New Orleans till April, 1862. — "The Art of Con- 
versation/' — Stumping the State of Mississippi, April and May, 
1862. — The Fall of New Orleans into the Hands of General 
B. F. Butler Necessitates Dr. Palmer's making His Home Else- 
where. — ^At Chattanooga, August, 1862. — ^At Columbia during 
Autumn of 1862 and Winter Following. — Eulogy on Thorn- 
well. — Eulogy of General Gregg. — Before the Legislature of 
G9)RGiA. — Bread Cast upon the Waters Years before Returned. 
— In the General Assembly of 1863. — ^With the Army of Ten- 
nessee. — Returns Home to Accompany His Oldest Daughter 
down into the Valley of the Shadow as far as the Living may 
Go. — In Columbia, Professor of Theology, and the Supply of 
His Old Church. — ^Address to General Wade Hampton, "Sol- 
diers OF THE Legion and Gentlemen of the Army." — Opposed to 
the Union of His Church and the Synod of the South. — In 
THE Assembly of 1864. — Pastoral Letter to His FLock in New 
Orleans. — Letter to Miss Anna Jennings. — Letter to Mrs. R. — 
An Occasion when He Preached with Difficulty. — His Flight 
FROM Columbia and Return. — Experiences of His Family during 
the Burning and Sack of Columbia. — Certain Subordinate Ser- 
vices to the Church during these Years. 

I T^HE officijJ discussion of political questions by the clergy 
/ 1 had had relatively little place in the South prior to the 
^ outbreak of the war between the sections. It had developed 
no Beechers, no Parkers, and no Cheevers, to disseminate 
political fads through the medium of their sacred offce. But 
when, in i860, the Republic seemed on the eve of destruction, 
many clergymen, hitherto conservative, deviated from their 
previous courses, feeling it incumbent on them to express their 
views on the momentous crisis. The Old School Presbyterian 

His Course During the War. 237 

Church had been marked for its studious avoidance of med- 
dling with the subject of slavery, but it now became prominent 
for the able political discussions conducted by its clergy. It has 
before appeared that Dr. Palmer, on Thanksgiving Day, i860, 
swayed New Orleans, as had Demosthenes of old the men of 
Athens. There soon appeared from the pen of Dr. J. H. 
Thomwell, of South Carolina, what seemed to be an irresisti- 
ble vindication of the position which had been taken by the 
South. Dr. Hodge, of Princeton, came out with "a fair and 
candid" exposition of the Northern side of the question. Then 
came another effort from the trenchant and versatile pen of 
Dr. Robert J. Breckenridge. 

Under the circumstances we should not be surprised to find 
Dr. Palmer again dividing his efforts between the preaching 
of the simple Gospel and the endeavor to solve the problems 
before his country. This is in fact, what he did. 

Thus we find him. Sabbath morning. May 26, 1861, deliv- 
ering a discourse from his own pulpit, to the Crescent Sifles. 
His text was Psalm 144: i.i "Blessed be the Lord, my strength 
which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight." He 
began with ^ the story of an ancient castle in which horses 
and riders fully accoutred stood rooted to the ground under 
the spell of an enchantment, till the shrill blast of a trumpet 
disenchanted them, when silence was suddenly changed to 
the pawing of war steeds and the clangor of arms, as horsemen 
sprang to the saddle. In this he found a parable of the past 
and present condition of the country, and passed to the scene 
immediately before him — ^the presence, within the house of 
God, of the flower and pride of the city in military garb, 
their banners leaning against the consecrated walls, to hear 
the last words of Christian counsel and receive the last ben- 
ediction of religion ere they should go forth to the dread 
encounter. Turning to his text, he vindicated from Scripture 
and reason the propriety of war in certain circumstances; 
brought out, in the second place, the principle, that sacrifice 
and toil are the conditions upon which all earthly blessings 
are obtained and held, and in the third place,' the position that 
in the comprehensive government of Jehovah nations have 
their assigned mission, which they must execute through the 
conflicts which Providence may ordain for them. 

*The sermon is found, in full, in the Sunday Delta, June 2, 1861. 



238 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Endeavoring to discriminate between wars that are rela- 
tively criminal and those that are comparatively blameless, 
he plead that this war, was "with us, one of simple defence," 
that our foes were convicted of g^ilt before God, "by the ma- 
lignant and vindictive spirit" which they breathed in all their 
utterances against us, that we were defending our national 
trust, and great American principle of self-government, and 
that the issue was "an issue between religion and atheism/* the 
North was crying for "a new Constitution, a new Bible, and k 
new God." 

In conclusion, he urged the soldiers before him to carry 
along with them a religious conviction of the righteousness 
of their cause, and to cherish in their hearts a sense of de- 
pendence on Almighty God. Finally, he exhorted his hearers 
to give their hearts to Christ and be prepared for the hour 
of death and entrance into the world of bliss. 

About the same time Dr. Palmer delivered a very eloquent 
and patriotic exhortation to the Washington Artillery, one of 
the leading military organizations of New Orleans. He ad- 
dressed these troops just prior to their marching to the rail- 
way station on their departure for the scene of war in Virginia. 
He spoke from the steps of the beautiful and classic portico 
of the City Hall. "Besides the military, there were not less 
than five thousand citizens present on this interesting occa- 
sion." The speaker said: 

"Gentlemen of the Washington Artillery: At the sound of the 
bugle you are here, within one short hour to bid adieu to cherished 
homes, and soon to encounter the perils of battle on a distant field. 
It is fitting that here, in the heart of this great city — ^here, beneath the 
shadow of this Hall, over which floats the fl^g of Louisiana's sov- 
ereignty and independence, you should receive a public and a tender 
farewell. It is fitting that religion herself should with gentle voice 
whisper her benediction upon your flag and your cause. Soldiers, 
history reads to us of wars which have been baptized as holy; but she 
enters upon her records none that is holier than this in which you 
have embarked. It is a war of defense against wicked and cruel ag- 
gression — a war of civilization against a ruthless barbarism which 
would dishonor the dark ages-^a war of religion against a blind and 
bloody fanaticism. It is a war for your homes and your firesides — 
for your wives and children — for the land which the Lord has given 
us for a heritage. It is a war for the maintenance of the broadest 
principle for which a free people can contend — ^the right of self-g:ov- 
ernment. Eighty-five years ago our fathers fought in defence of the 

His Course During the War. 239 

chartered rights of Englishmen, that taxation and representation are 
correlative. We, their sons, contend to-day for the great American 
principle that all just government derives its powers from the will of 
the governed. It is the comer stone of the great temple which, on this 
continent, has been reared to civil freedom; and its denial leads, as 
the events of the past two months have clearly shown, to despotism, 
the most absolute and intolerable — a despotism more grinding than that 
of the Turk or Russian, because it is the despotism of the mob, unregu- 
lated by principle or precedent, drifting at the will of an unscrupulous 
and irresponsible majority. The alternative which the North has laid 
before her people is the subjugation of the South, or what they are 
pleased to call absolute anarchy. The alternative before us is the in- 
dependence of the South or a despotism which will put its iron heel 
upon all that the human heart can hold dear. This mighty issue is to 
be submitted to the ordeal of battle, with the nations of the earth as 
spectators, and with the God of heaven as umpire. The theater ap- 
pointed for the struggle is the soil of Virginia, beneath the shadow 
of her own AUeghanies. Comprehending the import of this great con- 
troversy from the first, Virginia sought to stand between the combat- 
ants, and pleaded for such an adjustment as both the civilization and 
religion of the age demanded. When this became hopeless, obeying the 
instinct of that nature which has ever made her the Mother of states- 
men and of States, she has opened her broad bosom to the blows of 
a tyrant's hand. Upon such a theater, with such an issue pending before 
such a tribunal, we have no doubt of the part which will be assigned 
you to play; and when we hear the thunders of your cannon echoing 
from the mountain passes of Virginia will understand that you mean, 
in the language of Cromwell at the Castle of Drogheda, *to cut this 
war to the heart.* 

"It only remains, soldiers, to invoke the blessing of Almighty God 
upon your honored flag. It waves in brave hands over the gallant 
defenders of a holy cause. It will be found in the thickest of the 
fight, and the principles which it represents you will defend to 'the 
last of your breath and of your blood.* May victory perch upon its 
staff in the hour of battle, — ^and peace — an honorable peace — be wrapped 
within its folds when you shall return. It is little to say to you that 
you will be remembered. And should the frequent fate of the soldier 
befall you in a soldier*s death, you shall find your graves in thousands 
of hearts and the pen of history shall write the story of your martyr- 
dom. Soldiers, farewell ! and may the Lord of Hosts be around about 
you as a wall of fire, and shield your head in the day of battle!*** 

The preaching of political sermons and the discussion in 
religious papers of political questions, by Old School divines, 
was ominous. Some of these divines never so lost their heads 

• Copied from the Daily Delta, New Orleans, May 29, 1861. 

240 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

as to precipitate their ecclesiastical courts into rendering polit- 
ical decisions. Their indulgence in such discussions, however, 
was indicative of such a degree of excitement amongst the 
clergy at large that it was not a wholly unexpected thing that 
church courts, even certain Old School Presbyterian Qiurch 
/courts, should begin the making of political decisions. But 
/ the Old School Assembly of 1861, under the excitement ind- 
/ dent to the capture of Fort Sumter, and under popular pres- 
^-^ure brought to bear from without on the body, went to an un- 
expected extreme, in passing the Spring Resolutions; which, 
according to Dr. Qiarles Hodge, virtually declared that the 
allegiance of the whole Presbyterian Church, North, South, 
East and West, "is due to the United States, anything in the 
Constitution, ordinances or laws of the several States to the 
-^ contrary notwithstanding," and not only decides "the political 
question referred to, but makes that decision a term of mem- 
bership in our Church," thus usurping the "prerogatives of 
the Divine Master." 

The passage of these resolutions involved a subordination 
of Church to State, a violation of the Churdi's Constitution 
as well as a usurpation of the crown rights of the Redeemer; 
and a cruel trampling upon the God-given rights of their 
brethren throughout the whole Southland. Southern Pres- 
byteries began, on the very heels of the Assembly's adjourn- 
ment, the endeavor to adjust themselves properly to the As- 
sembly which had passed these resolutions. 

The Presbytery of New Orleans was not quick to meet. 
It did convene, however, in pro re nata meetings, July 9, 1861, 
"to receive any newly organized church, and to consider 
the course pursued by the late General Assembly with matters 
pertaining thereto; and also to take whatever action might 
be judged necessary in the premises." Preliminary business 
having been done, the Presbytery took measures which are 
recorded as follows : 

"The paper adopted by the General Assembly, in view of the state 
of the country, was then taken up for consideration. It is as follows: 

"'Gratefully acknowledging the distinguished bounty and care of 
Almighty God toward this favored land, and recognizing our obligation 
to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, this General 
Assembly adopts the following resolutions: 

"'Resolved, 1. That in view of the present agitated and unhappy 
condition of our country, the first day of July next is set apart as a day 

His Course During the War. 241 

of ^layer throughout our bounds; and that on this day ministers and 
people be called on humbly to confess and bewail our national sins; 
to offer our thanks to the Father of lights for his abundant and unde- 
served goodness toward us as a nation ; to seek his guidance and bless- 
ing upon our rulers and their counsels, as well as on the Congress 
of the United States about to assemble ; and to implore him, in the name 
of Jesus Christ, the great High Priest of the Christian profession, to 
turn away his anger from us, and speedily restore to us the blessings 
of an honorable peace. 

" 'Resolved, 2. That this General Assembly, in the spirit of Christian 
patriotism which the Scriptures enjoin, and which has always char- 
acterized this Church, do hereby acknowledge and declare our obliga- 
tion to promote and perpetuate, so far as in us lies, the integrity of 
these United States, to strengthen, uphold, and encourage the Federal 
Government in the exercise of all its functions under our noble Con- 
stitution; and to this Constitution, in all its provisions, requirements, 
and principles, we profess our unabated loyalty. And to avoid all mis- 
conceptions, the Assembly declares that by the terms the ^Federal 
Government,' as here used, is not meant any particular administration, 
or the peculiar opinions of any particular party, but that secular ad- 
ministration which, being at any time appointed and inaugurated ac- 
cording to the forms prescribed in the Constitution of the United States, 
is the visible representative of our national existence.* " " 

"At the request of the Presbytery the Commissioners presented a 
statement of the course pursued by the Assembly in connection with the 
passage of these resolutions. 

"Presbytery then went into interlocutory meeting. The roll was 
called, and each member gave his opinion of the action of the Assembly 
and of the consequent position and duty of the Presbytery. 

"Presbytery then resumed its regular session, and a committee con- 
sisting of Messrs. Palmer, Mclnnis, Henderson, Stringer, and Maybin, 
was appointed to draft a minute expressing the views of the Presby- 

"Presbytery then adjourned till 8 p.m. to-morrow. 

"Closed with prayer, Wednesday evening." 

"Presbytery met according to adjournment, opened with prayer. 
Present, Ministers, B. M. Palmer, S. Woodbridge, H. M. Smith, G. L. 
Moore, T. R. Markham, J. H Hollander, B Wayne, A. Mclnnis, U. T. 
Chamberlain, J. C. Graham, A. S. Johnson ; Elders, J. A. Maybin, R. C. 
Latting, F. Stringer, J. D. Henderson, E. Dillon, H. P. Bartlett. 

"The minutes of yesterday were read and approved. 

"The committee presented the following report which was amended 
and adopted and is as amended, as follows: 

"The committee appointed to draft a minute embodying the views 
of this Presbytery touching the action of the late General Assembly, 

* Minutes of the General Assembly, O. S., 1861, pp. 329, 330. 

242 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

which held its session in the city of Philadelphia in the month of May 
last, beg leave to submit the following paper: 

"The second of the resolutions adopted by the said Assembly aims 
to bind the whole Presbyterian Church by the authority of its high 
ecclesiastical court, to promote and perpetuate, as far as in them lies, 
'the integrity of these United States, and to strengthen, uphold and 
encourage the Federal Government in the exercise of all its functions/ 
This Church is required to profess its unabated loyalty to that central 
administration, which being at any time appointed and inaugurated 
according to the terms prescribed in the Constitution of the United 
States, is the visible representation of our national existence. This 
extraordinary action was taken in opposition to the notorious fact, 
that eleven sovereign States had withdrawn from the Federal Union 
and had established a government of their own; and in opposition to 
the fact that a large portion of the Church-HU>nsisting of t^n synods, 
forty-five presbyteries, 706 ministers, 1089 churches and 75,000 com- 
municants — ^was embraced within these seceded States; and obliged 
therefore by their own views of patriotism, and the word of God to 
support a government entirely distinct from that so arbitrarily patron- 
ized by the Assembly. 

"The Presbytery can do no less than, solemnly and in the fear of 
God, protest against this action as beii^ unconstitutional and Erastian 
to the last degree, since, in undertaking to determine questions of po- 
litical allegiance, it transcends all the powers granted by the Scriptures 
to the Church of Christ and the duties which are distinctly enumerated 
in our form of government; to protest against it also as unchristian 
and unfair, since advantage was taken of the absence of the great body 
of the Southern delegates, to consummate an act on which the voice 
of the whole Church consequently was not heard; to protest against 
it as tyrannical and oppressive, since it prescribes a political test as a 
term of ecclesiastical connection, and virtually exscinds those who can- 
not submit to its arbitrary and unlawful imposition ; and finally to pro- 
test against it as wicked, since it enjoins that which would be treason 
against the government under which we live, and which as citizens we 
cordially and conscientiously support and cherish. 

"Since this action places the Southern portion of the Church in 
a false position before the Church and the world, there should be no 
delay in recording the protest, and in dissolving, without. heat and pas- 
sion, but with full deliberation, and in the fear of God, the connection 
hitherto maintained with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States. 

"This virtual excision of the Southern Church by the General As- 
sembly, when it shall be accepted and recognized by the different pres- 
byteries, leaves us temporarily in a state of complete disintegration, 
and the question is at once forced upon our attention, What measure 
shall be adopted to bring these isolated presbyteries into ecclesiastical 

His Course During the War. 243 

union? For this purpose two plans have been proposed in the public 
prints. The first calls for a general convention of delegates from all 
the presbyteries, to consider the duty of the Church in the premises, 
and with power to withdraw in that united form from the Assembly. 
The second throws this question directly upon the separate presbyteries, 
who are invited to make provision for an early General Assembly of 
their own. This latter method commends itself to our judgment as 
immeasurably the safer and wiser of the two, and for the following 

1. A convention is a body not known to our constitution. It is ir- 
responsible for its action and may, therefore, be dangerous as a prece- 

2. It is unnecessary, as by the system of courts in th^ Presbyterian 
Church full provision is made for the mutual consultation and for 
expressing the visible unity of the Church. 

3. There is no party invested with' legal authority for calling a con- 
vention, and already so many different propositions have been made, 
as to the time and place for holding the same, that the whole scheme is 
likely to miscarry for want of concert. 

4. As the sitting of this convention is designed to precede the regular 
meetings of the Presbyteries sufficient time will not be afforded for 
many of our remote and scattered presbyteries to be represented therein. 

5. The action of a convention would not be final but must be referred 
for ratification to the presbyteries. Whereas the scheme for an assem- 
bly would be complete in itself. 

We submit therefore the following plan to our sister presbyteries 
for their consideration: 

"That each presb3rtery for itself and by its own sovereign power, 
proceed either at a meeting expressly called, or at its fall session, to 
dissolve its connection with the General Assembly in the United States ; 
and that they appoint commissioners to the General Assembly of the 
Confederate States of America, to sit in the city of Augusta, Ga., 
on the 4th day of 'December, a.d., 1861, or at some other place and time 
as they shall prefer, that they unite with us in requesting Rev. Drs. 
J. H. Gray and J. N. Waddell of the Presbytery of Memphis, residing 
at La Grange, Tenn., to act as a committee, to whom the action of each 
presb3rtery shall be reported by the stated clerk of the same as early, 
if possible, as the 15th of October, and that this committee of commis- 
sioners shall be empowered to call a General Assembly at such place 
and at such time, as shall receive a plurality of votes by the presb3rter- 
ies; said assembly to be opened with a sermon by the last moderator 
present, of the Old General Assembly, who shall preside until a new 
moderator shall have been chosen. ^— *^ 

"In conformity with these views be it therefore by this Presbytery: I 

"Resolved, That in view of the unconstitutional, Erastian, tyrannical 
and virtually exscinding act of the late General Assembly sitting at 

^ 244 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

/ Philadelphia in May last, we do hereby with a solemn protest against 
J this act, declare in the fear of God, our connection with the General 
'^ Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to be dis- 
, solved. 

"Resolved, That a copy of this action be sent to all the presbjrteries 
. within the Gjnfederate States, requesting them, if they concur with 
/ us, that they appoint commissioners authorized to organize a General 
/ Assembly, to commence its sessions on the 4th day of December next, 
/ at II A.M. in the First Presb3rterian Church, in the city of Augusta, Ga., 
^as a place central, retired, etc.; forwarding due notice of their action 
to the Committee of Commissioners already designated, and request- 
ing them in due form to give notice of the meeting of the Assembly. 
"Resolved, That we approve the action taken by Dr. Wilson and the 
brethren at Columbia, to carry on, ad interim, our Foreign Missionary 
operations, and also the course of the Southwestern Committee of 
Domestic Missions in assuming, ad interim, the independent manage- 
ment of that great interest within our bounds, and we direct the 
churches under our care to take up and remit their collections for these 
objects to these committees respectively. 

"Resolved, That we approve the course of our commissioners to the 
late General Assembly, believing that they did all that was possible 
in a body which was in no proper sense a free Assembly. 

"Signed — B. M. Palmer, R. Mclnnis, J. J. Henderson, J. A. Maybin, 
F. Stringer, Com. 

"The ayes and noes were called for on the adoption of this paper, 
the absent members to have the privilege of recording their votes." 

The vote, so far as recorded, was all one way. 

From the minutes of the regular fall meeting of the Pres- 
bytery of New Orleans, October, 1861, it appears that, the 
body appointed Revs. B. M. Palmer and R. Mclnnis as prin- 
cipal commissioners, Rev. T. R. Markham and N. P. Cham- 
berlain as alternates ; and elders J. A. Maybin and P. Stringer 
as principal commissioners. W. C. Black and David Hadden 
as alternates, "to represent it in the General Assembly of the 
Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States, to be held at 
Augusta, Ga., Dec. 4, 1861." 

It seems that the action of the Presbytery of July 9th had 
been misunderstood as betraying a disregard for the visible 
unity of the Church, prejudicing the claims had upon the com- 
mon property of the whole Church when it was one body, and 
as annihilating the authority of the Standards of faith and 

At the fall meeting of the Presbytery, 1861, Dr. B. M. 

His Course During the War. 245 

Palmer submitted a paper which, after amendment, was unani- 
mously adopted. This "Declaratory Act" was as follows: 

"Whereas, the Presbytery of New Orleans, at a pro re nata meeting 
held in the city of New Orleans, July 9, 1861, did by resolution and for 
reasons stated therein, cancel its connection with the General Assembly 
of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America; and 
whereas the simple abnegation of the authority of said Assembly 
unaccompanied with explanation may possibly be misconstrued by 
some as manifesting a disregard for the visible unity of the Church, 
or as prejudicing the claims we have upon the common property of the 
whole Church when it was one body, or as vacating the authority of the 
Standards of faith and order hitherto recognized, therefore: 

"This Presbytery, while not admitting the justice of any of these 
inferences, yet to satisfy the scruples of others, and in the exercise of 
superabundant caution makes the following Declaration upon these 
points, to Tvit: 

"i. In withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the General Assembly 
aforesaid, it was not the desire or purpose of this Presbytery to sep- 
arate itself from sister presbyteries within the limits of the Confed- 
erate States, except temporarily, and only in form, and solely with the 
view of reintegrating in a Southern Assembly which should represent 
the unity of the Presbyterian Church within our national limits, evi- 
dence of which is furnished in the invitation extended to all the pres- 
byteries which are likeminded, to meet on the 4th day of December 
in the city of Augusta, Ga., for the purpose of organizing such South- 
em General Assembly. 

"2. The Presbytery did not in the passage of said resolution, nor 
does it now regard its withdrawal from the aforesaid Assembly as 
affecting in the least degree its synodical relations. On the contrary, 
since the Assembly grows up through the expansion of the Church 
by the force of her own inherent life beyond the bounds of a single 
S3mod, the only effect of such withdrawal is to cut the connection be- 
tween these presbyteries of which the Assembly is the ecclesiastical 
bond. It cannot dissolve the whole interior organization of the Church 
as held together by presbyteries and synods. In token of this the 
Stated Clerk is hereby directed to send up as, usual the record of this 
Presb3rtery, for review to the Synod of Mississippi, at its approaching 
meeting; and also to lay before that body immediately on its organiza- 
tion, the whole action of the Presbytery, including both the act of 
separation, passed July 9th, and this Declaratory Act, now passed, in- 
viting it as the higher court to which this is amenable to declare its 
judgment upon these proceedings and to make its own deliverances 
touching the course of the late General Assembly held in May last in 
the city of Philadelphia. 

"3. This Presb3rtery cannot for a moment conclude that its with- 
drawal from the General Assembly aforesaid involved in any degree 

246 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

a renunciation of the venerable Standards of the Presbyterian Church, 
or that it has been since the act of separation without a constitution 
or a law. On the contrary these Standards having been solemnly sub- 
scribed by ministers and elders at their ordination, remain the funda- 
mental law of the Church, and since no alterations nor amendments 
can be made in the same except by a direct vote of the Presbytery, 
much less can their authority be entirely vacated without a distinct 
and formal repudiation. In the stead of which repudiation, it is in 
the recognition of these Standards as giving the common and public 
law of the Church, we did and still do propose to unite with, our sister 
presbyteries in constructing a General Assembly as the organ of our 
visible fellowship and union." 

Later in this same month of October, the Synod of Miss- 
issippi met in Oakland College, Miss. Dr. Palmer was made 
moderator. It was found that its other Presbyteries had also 
taken action "substantially identical" with that of New Orleans 
Presbytery touching their relations to the old Assembly and 
to the one to be constituted at Augusta, Ga., December 4, prox- 
imo. The Synod accordingly declared that all connection there- 
tofore subsisting between it and the General Assembly of the 
Presbyterian Church in the United States was dissolved; that 
a similar connection should be formed with the General Assem- 
bly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States, 
as soon as organized; and that in token of this their records 
should be sent up for the inspection and review of that body. 
7 Similar movements were going on all through the Con- 
federate States. Palmer or no Palmer, some such movements 
would have taken place. But he seems to have been largely 
instrumental in determining the precise form which the move- 
ments took. The action of his Presbytery of July 9 and 10, 
to which he gave form, was published abroad and furnished a 
^pattern to the presbyteries generally. 

It has been seen that his Presbytery made Dr. Palmer its 
first commissioner to the Constituting Assembly which met 
in Augusta, Ga., December 4, 1861. That Assembly numbered 
not a few men of eminence. Dr. J. H. Thornwell was the man 
of intellectual preeminence. But Thornwell was not well. 
The most eloquent speaker in the body was Dr. Palmer. The 
venerable Dr. Francis McFarland presided until a regular or- 
ganization could be effected. On his motion Dr. Palmer was 
unanimously chosen to preach the opening sermon. Dr. Palmer 
felt the responsibility of the occasion. What was of greater 

His Course During the War. 247 

moment, he was prepared to meet it. Endowed with a force 
and splendor and enthusiasm like Homer's, a fiery and con- 
vincing logic, like Paul's, the speaker commanded an eloquence 
like Edmund Burke's. Habitually an honest and comprehen- 
sive student and hence on all occasions a well- furnished preach- 
er, on great occasions he was in possession of the resources 
and the' mettle to respond to the unusual pressure. The pres- 
ent was a great occasion. He pronounced the following dis- 
course : 

"Fathers and Brethren: This Assembly is convened under circum- 
stances of unusual solemnity, and any one of us might well shrink 
from the responsibility of uttering the first words which are to be 
spoken here. I see before me venerable men whom the Church of God 
has honored with the highest mark of her confidence — ^men venerable 
for their wisdom, no less than for their age — ^who should, perhaps, as 
your organ, speak to-day in the hearing of the nation and of the Church. 
But a providence which I have had no hand in shaping seems to have 
devolved upon me this duty as delicate as it is solemn. It only remains 
for me to bespeak your sympathy, and to implore the divine blessing 
upon what I may be able to say from the concluding words of the 
first chapter of Ephesians : 

***And gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church; which 
is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.* Eph. i : 22, 23. 

"You have often admired in the Epistles of Paul the vigor of his 
inspired and sanctified logic ; driving, like a wedge, through the compli- 
cations of the most perplexed reasoning to its very heart. Not less 
wonderful is that intellectual comprehensiveness, which, stretching 
across the breadth of a zone, gathers up all the indirections of his 
theme, and lays them over upon it in rapid and cumulative utterances — 
till language begins to break beneath the weight of his thought ; and the 
arguments, set on fire- with the^ ardor of his emotion, reaches the goal 
a perfect pyramid of flame. The passage just recited is a sufficient ex- 
ample of this rare combination of the discursive with the severely 
logical in the writings of this great Apostle; for the grand thoughts 
it presents are nevertheless gathered up by the way, and wrought 
into the texture of his discourse by incidental allusion. Having first 
traced the calling and salvation of these Kphesian Christians to its 
source in the free and gracious love of God, through which they were 
chosen in Christ; and having unfolded the method of grace, by re- 
demption through his blood, he pauses that he may lift them to some 
adequate conception of the privileges into which they have been intro- 
duced. This, however, he attempts not through cold and didactic 
exposition, but in the language of prayer, burning throughout with a 
holy and earnest passion: 'that the eyes of their understanding may 
be enlightened, to know what is the hope of their calling, what the 

248 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

riches of the glory of their inheritance/ and what the almightiness of 
the power by which they have been transformed from sinners into 
saints. Then as if to give some external measure of that power, 
he points them to the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, in which 
their own spiritual renovation is implicitly contained. Kindling with 
the grandeur of his theme growing thus by the accumulation of wayside 
suggestions, he heaps together in rapid description these phrases bur- 
dened with the glory of that Headship which belongs to this risen 
Savior, and the honors of that Church standing to him in such august 
relations; till even Paul, with his inspired logic all on fire, can say 
nothing more than that she is 'His body, the fulness of him that 
iilleth all in all' The power of human speech is exhausted in this 
double utterance; and silence lends its emphasis to the unspoken 
thoughts which no dialect beneath that of the seraphim may express. 
Who of us, my brethren, has not been stunned by this holy vehemence 
of Paul, as he piles together his massive words; each bursting with a 
separate wealth, and revealing the agony of language in uttering the 
deep things of God? What resource have we, but to halt at the articu- 
lations of his text — until, stored with their digressive sweets we return 
to follow the wheels of his chariot as it bounds along the great highway 
of his discourse? Such an excursus I now propose to you: for no 
theme occurs to me piore suited to the solemnity of this occasion, than 
the supreme dominion to which Christ is exalted as the Head of the 
Church and the glory of the Church in that relation as being at once 
his body and his fulness. 

"The testimony of Scripture is given with great largeness to this 
Headship of Christ. In this immediate connection, Paul affirms that 
He is 'set at the Father's own right hand in the heavenly places, far 
above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every 
name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to 
come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the 
head over all things/ Eph. i : 20-23. Again, in Philippians : 'wherefore 
God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above 
every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of 
things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and 
that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory 
of God the Father.' Phil. 2:9-11. What enumeration can be more 
exhaustive, and what description more minute of the universality and 
glory of this dominion? In like manner, we read in the prophetic 
record the testimony of Daniel: T saw in the night visions, and be- 
hold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came 
to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him; and 
there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all 
people, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an 
everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that 
which shall not be destroyed.* Dan. 7 : 13, 14. The evangelical Isaiah, 

His Course During the War. 249 

too, lifts up the voice of the ancient Church: 'unto us a child is born, 
unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders ; 
and his name shall be called Wonderful, G>unsellor, the Mighty God, 
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his 
government and peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David 
and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment 
and with justice, from henceforth even forever.' Isa. 9:6, 7. Our 
Lord himself asserts his claim of universal empire and founds upon it 
the great commission of the Church: 'AH power is given unto me in 
heaven and upon earth — go ye, therefore, and teach all nations.' Matt 
28 : 18, 19. Finally, the lonely Seer of * Patmos turns his telescopic 
gaze into the heavens, and reveals the Grand Assembly in their solemn 
worship around the throne, 'and the number of them was ten thousand 
times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; and every creature 
which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as 
are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying. Blessing, and 
honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, 
and unto the Lamb forever and ever.' Rev. 5:11, 13. Such is the testi- 
mony of prophecy, both as it begins, and as it closes the sacred canon. 

"Observe, however, of whom all this is affirmed. It is not alone of the 
Eternal Word which dwelt in Christ; nor yet alone of the man Jesus, 
in whom that Word was made flesh — ^but of the Christ, in whom these 
two natures meet and are indissolubly united. So that we are compelled 
to look upon both the terms of His complex person before we can ap- 
prehend the nature and the greatness of this supremacy. We shall 
discover reasons in both for the sublime agency assigned to him as 
' 'the whole creation's Head.' Looking, then, upon the divine side, it is 

"i. That all the perfections of God are indispensable to the fulfil' 
ment of this amazing trust. Recurring to the passages already quoted, 
this headship clearly includes universal conservation and rule. The 
whole administration of Providence and law over matter and over mind 
is delegated to this Head; who cannot therefore, be a mere creature, 
lacking the first attributes necessary to the execution of his task. 
Suppose the universe of matter to be created; yet is it throughout, 
from the atom to the mass, senseless and inert. The mechanical forces 
pent up within its gigantic frame slumber in a repose deep as that 
of death, until evoked and put in play by the operative will of the Great 
Designer; and the constant pressure of the same external will is the 
secret power by which the wheels and pistons of the blind machine are 

"Proudly as science may descant upon the laws of nature which it 
is her providence to explore, they are at last but the formulas into 
which our knowledge, drawn from extended observation, is general- 
ized. It were sad if reason should be deceived by the pompous phrase- 
ology, which often serves but as the cover for that ignorance it \s 

250 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

too proud to confess. These physical laws are but records of facts 
inductively classified, not producing causes to which these facts owe 
existence. They are only statements of the modes through which 
Nature is seen to work, and not the secret power to which that working 
is due. Providence stands over against creation thus as its correlate; 
precisely the same energy being required in the continuing, which was 
first put forth in the producing. The agent, then, to whom this admin- 
istration of Providence is assigned, must possess the attributes of God. 
His influential presence must pervade all nature, upholding its separate 
parts, balancing its discordant forces, adjusting in exact proportions 
its constituent elements, reconstructing it amidst constant change — its 
omnipotent and supporting Head. 

'The same is true in the domain of mind. Myriads of beings, for 
example, have pressed this globe, each of whom has a history of his own, 
and each history a separate thread in the great web of Providence. 
The slenderest of them may not be drawn without a rent in the general 
tissue. The tiniest babe, that wakes but for a moment to an infant's 
joy, and then closes its eyes in sleep forever, was bom for a purpose, 
though bom but to die. But see these countless units as they are 
massed together in society, compacted into States, and living under 
government and law. What complications are here, to be mastered 
by Him who is placed a^ Head over all 1 Alas 1 the best statesmanship 
of earth breaks down in the management even of its subdivided trusts. 
G>ntingencies it had not the wisdom to foresee, and too stubborn for 
control, brings its counsels to naught ;and the web so patiently woven 
by day, is unraveled in the night. What creature, then, may aspire 
to the premiership of the universe ? As the thought ranges upward from 
the earth through the grand hierarchy of the skies, who among the 
creatures can take the scale of such an empire, grasp the law which 
angels and seraphim obey, weave the destinies of all into one historic 
conclusion, and draw it up finished and entire before the Judgment 
Throne? Just here, then, in the attributes of his Grodhead, we discern 
the competency of Christ to be the Head over all things; equal to the 
statesmanship' of the universe, in the perfect administration of a per- 
fect law. 

"Thus far we have pressed up to the divinity of Christ, but not to his 
personal distinction in the Godhead as the only begotten of the Father. 
I remark then, 2. That this agency is suitably assigned to him as the 
middle person of the adorable Trinity, by whose immediate efficiency 
all things were created. We may not too curiously pry into the mystery 
of this plural subsistence in the Godhead, revealed to us as the object 
of faith rather than as the subject of speculation. Unquestionably, 
God is infinitely blessed and glorious in the ineffable fellowship of 
these persons as well as in the unity of his being. But as these personal 
distinctions have their ground in that singleness of nature, they must 
equally concur in all the external operations of the Deity; and so the 

His Course During the War. 251 

Scriptures variously ascribe the works of creation, providence and 
grace to each respectively. In this there is no contradiction; since 
they are assigned comprehensively to all in their unity, and distribu- 
tively to each in their separateness. However unable we may be to 
trace the grounds of that distribution, they must be found in the recip- 
rocal relations of those persons in the mystery of the Godhead. Cer- 
tainly the Scriptures, however they may generally refer the work of 
creation to Grod absolute, as clearly assert the special intervention of the 
second person as its immediate author. John in the opening of his 
Gospel, declares with emphasis of the Word that 'all things were made 
by him, and without him was not anything made/ John i : 3. Paul, 
speaking of the Son whom God 'hath appointed heir of all things,' 
adds, 'by whom he also made the world.' Heb. i : 2. And in Colos- 
sians, 'by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are 
in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions 
or principalities or powers ; all things were created by him and for him 
— and he is before all things, and by him all things consist' Col. i : 16, 
17. If then in the out working of this mighty plan, the control and 
government of all created things should be delegated to an agent who 
must possess the attributes of the Almighty, which of the sacred three 
may occupy this trust more suitably than He who in the economy of 
the Godhead executively and directly brought all things into being? 
Who shall more perfectly grasp the design of creation than He who 
articulately wrought it out in all its parts? Who shall better gather 
up all things unto himself as the center and the head, and administer 
that Providence which is but the continuation of the creative energy 
which he first put forth? 

"Unsearchable as the mystery of God's being doubtless is, three 
facts are certainly revealed to us: the unity of the Divine essence, a 
threefold distinction of persons in the same, and a certain order between 
them by which the second is from the first; not posterior in time, but 
second in the sequence of thought. It would seem to be a consequence 
of this personal characteristic of the Son, as being from the Father, 
that the total revelation of God, whether by word or work, should be 
through him. Thus the ground may exist in the eternal relationship 
of these persons for referring the works of creation, providence and 
grace, distributively to the first in the way of final authority, and to 
the second in the way of executive production. The Father who is 
before all, shall hold in his august keeping, the eternal thought which 
drafts the mighty plan. The Son, by virtue of his personal distinction 
^s from the Father, shall produce the thought, lifting it up from the 
abyss of the infinite mind and revealing it to the creatures. Thus the 
Son is also the Word; the one title being descriptive of his personal 
relation in the Godhead, and the other of his office as the revealer 
flowing from the same. Hence Christ says: 'No man hath seen the 
Father, save He which is of God ; he hath seen the Father.' John 6 : 46. 

252 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

And again the evangelist John affirms, 'no man hath seen God at any 
time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he 
hath declared him/ John i : 18. In like manner, as the Son is from 
the Father, so in turn the Holy Spirit is from them both; and he who 
holds the middle place in this sacred triplet looks upon the first for 
those archetypal thoughts which he shall render into concrete facts, 
and then upon the third whose concurrent agency shall breathe life 
and order and beauty into the works of his hands. As therefore in 
Christ's divinity we discover the resources, so again in his personal 
distinction as the Son we trace the ultimate reason of this universal 

"But let us turn from thoughts too high for us, to contemplate the 
human aspect of his person. For if the power to wield this empire vests 
in him as God, no less does the form of that jurisdiction depend upon 
a true participation in the nature of those to whom he is the Head. 
I may open this topic in three particulars: 

"i. By his incarnation he has virtually embraced all the grades of 
being lying between the extremes of the scale. The peculiar distinction 
of man is through his mixed composition to be the middle link of the 
whole creation. As to his body, he is of the earth, earthy; as to his 
soul, celestial and God-like. How wonderful his bodily organization, 
of so many parts, and so wisely adjusted! The most singular feature 
of all being that the presence of an indwelling, actuating soul is the 
mdispensable condition of its physical life. The two are distinct, yet 
their co-operation necessary. The anatomist can trace the impressions 
upon the skin with its fine tissues, and the transmission of these along 
the nerves to the brain, the seat of all sensation. But science will never 
perfect her methods so as to step from that brain to the mind which 
uses it as an organ, and thus explain to us the birth of a single thought 
By means of the body, the soul comes forth and takes possession of 
a world which is foreign to itself; and man connects them both by 
their mysterious union in himself. So far as our knowledge extends, 
he is the only being who unites these contradictions ; thus fitted by his 
very organization, he was placed by his Maker in Paradise, the head 
of the lower creation. In token of this supremacy, the beasts receive 
from him their baptismal names, and express their allegiance to God's 
vice-regent upon the earth. As the high priest of nature, he must give 
articulate voice to her silent praise, and gather up in his censer the 
incense of a universal worship. Such was the glory of man's primeval 
state: himself a microcosm, summing together in the perfection of 
his animal frame all the properties of the material creation, and by 
the union of spirit bridging the awful gulf of separation between the 
two. Christ now according to Scripture sinks through the entire scale 
of intelligent beings till he comes to man; 'for verily, he took not on 
him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.' 
Heb. 2 : 16. The two poles of being are thus brought together in him ; 

His Course During the War. 253 

of being, as it is in God, self-existent and eternal, and of being, as it 
is in man, dependent and derived. In the sweep of his descent he 
gathers up all the intervening grades, and finds in man at the bottom 
of the scale a nature which links all the forms of creaturely existence 
within himself. Thus in the incarnation he lays a broad foundation 
for his Headship, establishing through it a relation to the creatures 
by which they may be recapitulated in him as their center and* their head. 

"2. The human title of Christ to this Headship is grounded upon 
that perfect obedience by which he magnified the law. If we are over- 
whelmed by the condescension of the Son in stooping to become man, 
not less amazing is the counterpart to this in the exaltation of man to 
this universal Headship. The incarnation lays, so to speak, a physical 
basis for this delegated rule, by allying him in nature with the creature ; 
but there must exist some moral ground for this apparent inversion, 
which transfers man from the bottom to the top of the scale. 

"All the terms which define a created moral being imply his subju- 
gation under law. The faculties of understanding, conscience and will 
with which he is endowed must find their scope in relations which are 
determined and regulated through a law. What the air is to the lungs, 
the law is to will; it creates the moral atmosphere, through which all 
the powers of the soul find their activity and play. Even Christ, in 
the assumption of our nature, was not exempt from this inexorable 
condition; for 'God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under 
the law.' Gal. 4 : 4. 'Being found in fashion as a man, he became obed- 
ient unto death.' Phil. 2 : 8. How then shall his humanity lift itself 
above the law, executively to administer it, dispensing on either hand 
its blessing and its curse? The explanation is immediately furnished 
in the passage last cited. 'Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.' 
Because of this 'obedience unto death, even the death of the cross;' 
*a name is given him which is above every name ; at which every knee 
shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under 
the earth.' Phil. 2 : 9, 10. In no way conceivable shall the man Jesus 
be lifted to this supremacy, but by rendering a service to the law, 
commensurate with its dignity, to which this exaltation shall be an 
equal reward. The mere assumption of humanity by the Logos doubt- 
less invests it with a sublime worth and imparts to the acts done by 
it an infinite value. But the natural basis thus laid for Headship is 
quite another thing from the moral reason for appointing it. If, how- 
ever, the work done by that nature shall be a work of support to the 
law itself, more conspicuously revealing its majesty and sustaining 
it against all possible impeachment — if i( shall heal the dreadful breach 
which sin has made, and discovers the love of God in the very as- 
sertion of his justice — if, in the language of the prophet, it shall 'mag- 
nify the law and make it honorable,' and be a lesson of holiness which 
the angels themselves shall study: we may then conceive that, to bring 
out these grand results in more open view, God may place the admin- 

254 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

istration of this law in the hands of that being who has preeminently 
honored it; and install over the whole creation one who is fitted by 
his double nature to be its head. Yet the hypothesis I have suggested, 
is only a faint outline of the work actually achieved by our incarnate 
Lord. Who can hope to condense into a paragraph the glories of that 
obedience by which he has forever magnified the law? — an obedience 
glorious in. its perfect voluntariness, not only as being willingly ren- 
dered, but as being optional whether it shall be undertaken: an obedi- 
ence glorious in being distinctly offered to the precept and the penalty 
— ^thus covering the whole area of law and exhausting its contents; a 
characteristic difference between the obedience of Christ and of all 
other beings throughout the universe: an obedience glorious as shut 
up within a limit, bounded within a period — so that Christ could testify 
in the hearing of heaven and earth, Mt is finished;' not like the obedi- 
ence of mere creatures, ever continuing, but finished and entire; noth- 
ing to be added to it — nothing to be taken from it, and borne into the 
chancery of heaven as the plea for the sinner's discharge : an obedience 
glorious through the hypostatic union, which brings the splendor of 
his deity to illuminate the acts of his humanity. If Moses break the 
tables of stone at the foot of the Mount, behold one greater than Moses 
descending after him to gather up the broken fragments, cementing 
them with his blood, and pouring the rays of his divine glory upon 
the restored tablet, until every letter beams with light above the bright- 
ness of the sun. Well may the cherubim bend their gaze between 
their extended wings upon this repaired law reposing forever within 
the ark of the covenant. The transcendant worth of this obedience, 
as sustaining the majesty of God's law and upholding the integrity 
of the Divine Government, is signalized by placing him who wrought 
it over the whole creation; and it becomes the title by which this 
supremacy is held as his mediatorial reward. 

**$. In this Headship are blended the two methods of law and grace, 
by which God reveals his moral perfections. Beyond a doubt, the law 
was the original medium through which God's nature was disclosed to 
the creature; and it would not be difficult to show that his glory is 
stamped upon every feature of it. Indeed, springing out from the 
bosom of his nature, it not only asserts the claims of God and deter- 
mines the duty of the creature, but it so transcribes and discovers the 
excellence of the divine Being that the creature's obedience rises at 
once into the solemnity of worship. For the same reason, the law is 
generally one throughout the universe. Having its foundation in the 
nature of one God, it is essentially one over angels and men, modified 
only in its details to suit the different relations in which these different 
classes are placed. It is noticeable moreover that this law finds its 
majesty vindicated in both its grand divisions through the separate des- 
tiny assigned to two separate orders of beings : the holy angels, through 
their constant obedience, historically illustrating the glory of law as 

His Course Djuring the War. 255 

found in its precepts; and apostate angels, through constant endurance 
of its penalty. Such simple provision has God made for securing rev- 
enue of praise through the wisdom of his law. Last of all, in compen- 
sation of the stupendous service by which its majesty has been upheld, 
the administration thereof has been committed to the Mediator, and 
is brought to a conclusion at the Day of Judgment, when he shall sit 
upon the throne of his glory. Thus by a, method of pure law, the sun- 
light of Jehovah's excellence shines throughout the universe, gathering 
into focal splendor upon the person of our exalted Savior, the organ 
by whom it shall be dispensed to the redeemed forever; for it is writ- 
ten of the New Jerusalem, that it had 'no need of the sun, neither of 
the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the 
Lamb is the light thereof/ Rev. 21 : 23. 

'There is reserved, however, a more inferior display of Divine per- 
fections through a method of grace. The law discovers God to us in 
the attributes of wisdom, power, holiness, justice and truth. But how 
shall Jehovah open to us his infinite heart— disclosing the depths of 
its tenderness, his boundless compassion, his inconceivable mercy and 
love? To do this, he must look upon the su£fering and loss, and find a 
surety who shall bear their guilt and die their death under the curse. 
But where shall this substitute be found? In vain the challenge went 
forth from the august throne in tones which only the o£fended law 
could use, 'Whom shall I send and who shall go for us? Silence 
reigned throughout the courts of heaven: for none of the sons of the 
morning might adventure the dreadful perils of such a trust — till a 
voice sounded forth from the midst of the throne, 'Lo, I come, I de- 
light to do thy will, oh, my Godl yea, thy law is within my heart.' 
Psalm 40 : 7, 8. Bursting from the secret pavilion, the eternal Word 
leaps forth to execute the stem demand. He unclothes himself of light, 
and lays aside the garments of praise, and takes upon him the form 
of a servant, that he may sound the depths of human woe, and pay 
the costly ransom for a guilty soul. By an obedience grander in its 
proportions than the aggregate obedience of all the creatures, Christ 
vindicates the law's injured majesty; whilst through his grace he brings 
out the tenderest affections of the Father as a God of love. Sublime 
is that utterance of Scripture, which tells us that God is life; equally 
sublime the testimony, which tells us he is light; but grander still, in 
the comprehension of them both, is the revelation which tells us God 
is Love, To enthrone this grace by the side of law as the Queen 
Majesty, the author of grace is made the administrator of law. As 
the covering cloud tempered the brightness of God's presence upon 
the mercy seat, so forever must the law shine out from the mercy in 
which it is embosomed; that obedience may be sweetened — ^not only 
as a debt which conscience pays to duty, but an homage which the heart 
pays to love. Thus, the two lines of law and grace by which the Divine 
glory streams forth upon the universe, converge upon the person of 

2s6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Jesus Qirist in the administration of his delegated trust as 'the Head 
over all things to the Church.' 

"I must now turn your thoughts from Christ to his Church, here 
set forth as his body and fulness, only regretting that I must shut 
up in simple sentences what deserves expansion through paragraphs. 

"The Church, in accordance with a very familiar distinction, may 
be viewed by us in two aspect*. There is the ideal Church, conformed 
to the pattern drafted in the Divine purpose, composed of the elect in all 
ages, who have been washed, justified and sanctified; and there is the 
actual, visible Church, composed of those who profess faith in the Re- 
deemer, whether they be his or not. These two interpenetrate each 
other, and are largely identified in the statements of Scripture; and of 
both, in important though different senses, it may be affirmed they are 
the fulness of Christ. The former as being, 

"i. The object upon which the fulness of his grace expends itself. 
The two you perceive are reciprocal, the fulness and the distribution. 
Thus the Evangelist says: The Word was made flesh and dwelt 
amongst us, and we behold his glory as the glory of the only begotten 
of the Father, full of grace and truth; and of his fulness have all we 
received, and grace for grace.' John i : 14, 16. The same is stated with 
equal distinctness in Col. 2:9, 10 : Tor in him dwelleth all the fulness 
of the Godhead bodily — and ye are complete in him, which is the Head 
of all principality and power.* The glory of Christ is not simply in 
being the architect of grace, by whom it was historically wrought out 
and engrafted upon law; but in being also the depository of grace — 
its dispenser no less than its procurer. The two cannot be viewed 
apart; Christ, the head of all principality and power, and the Church 
complete in that gracious fulness which he imparts. Hence, true be- 
lievers in every age have been drawn from all grades of society, under 
every degrjee of culture, have been placed under every variety of dis- 
cipline, subjected to every form of temptation, recovered from every 
species of sin, and conducted through all the stages of spiritual growth ; 
that through all might be displayed the exceeding riches of Divine 
grace — grace for all, and according to the varying exigencies of each. 

"2. The Church of the Elect is the body; that is to say, it is the 
complement of the mystical Christ. In the Covenant of Redemption, 
the Father gave to the Son a seed to be redeemed, and constituted him 
their representative and surety. In all federal transactions the two 
ideas are conjoined. As in the Covenant of Works, the first Adam 
cannot be considered in his separate personality, but also as the rep- 
resentative of his natural seed; so in the Covenant of Grace, the 
second Adam is incomplete except as associated with his spiritual 
seed. The two terms are united in the very notion of a covenant 
In this sense, the Church is preeminently the body and fulness of 
Christ; and through all time Christ is reproducing himself in his 
members. While in his immediate person he is exalted at the right 

His Course During the War. 257 

hand of the majesty in the heavens, and will never again appear but 
with his own glory and with the glory of the Father, yet in the Church 
which is his body he is still 'the man of sorrows and acquainted with 
grief.' In all the persecutions, afRictions, temptations and distress of 
his people he renews his own humiliation and the agony of his own 
conflict with the powers of darkness. This is the ground of our con- 
fidence and hope, as we pass beneath the rod and stagger under our 
cross; that as 'it behooved the great Captain of our salvation to be 
made perfect through suffering,' so must all members of his body 
drink of his cup, and be baptized with the baptism with which he wa» 

"3. This Church of the Elect is the fulness of Christ, as constituting 
the reward of his mediatorial work. Having redeemed them with his 
own priceless blood, and sanctified them by his own indwelling Spirit, he 
must, according to the stipulations of the covenant, present them to the 
Father, 'holy and without blame before him in love.' To this end, he 
must appear as the resurrection and the life, that they may 'receive the 
adoption, to wit; the redemption of their bodies.' Amidst the terrors 
of a burning world, he must sit upon the throne of judgment and pro- 
nounce the Father's authoritative benediction, 'come, ye blessed of my 
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of 
the world.' 'Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the king- 
dom to God, even the Father;* that God, in the supremacy of his law, 
'may be all in all.' Having wound up his mediatorial work in this 
final act of mediatorial authority, and fulfilled all the promises on which 
the faith of his people ever leans, he presents them to the Father, 
according to his eternal pledge, a glorious Church, not having spot or 
wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish, 'meet for 
the inheritance of the saints in light.' This Church is then given back 
into his hands, to be his reward and his rejoicing forevermore. They 
swell his train, as he ascends a second time through the clouds into the 
heavens: shouting, as they rise, the triumphant challenge, 'lift up your 
heads, oh ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the 
King of glory shall come in.' Psalm 24 : 7. Gathered at length in 
'the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are writ- 
ten in heaven,' they form the nearest circle around the throne, and 
give the keynote of that song with which the arches of the great temple 
shall forever ring. Glorious in that righteousness of God which they 
have received by faith, the saints, like so many crystal pillars, shall 
surround the Lamb in the midst of the throne ; till all heaven becomes 
bright with the reflected splendors of that wrought righteousness which 
answers to the holiness of God, expressed through the law. As the 
great anthem of praise rolls up from the company of the redeemed, the 
High Priest of the transfigured Church gathers all into his golden cen- 
ser and waves it before the throne. Thus, in a sublimer sense, the 
God of Holiness is seen to be 'all in all;' and the Lamb again is seen 


258 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

to be the light of the New Jerusalem. In this final and exhaustive 
sense, this glorified Church becomes the body of the great Head, *the 
fulness of him that filleth all in all/ 

"It must not, however, escape us that this spiritual Church has its 
manifestation here in the Church actual and visible: the incarnation 
through which it becomes to us a thing tangible and known. In this 
view, also, Christ is still her Head— and she, his fulness, because — 

"i. In this embodied form Christ is her only King; enacting by his 
sole legislation laws for her government — ^appointing, by his executive 
authority, officers for her administration — instituting in his priestly 
jurisdiction the ordinances of her worship — ^and granting, in the 
supremacy of his headship, the character by which her immunities 
and rights are held. In this pure theocracy, the Mediator is King; 
and all power under him is simply ministerial. By whatever names 
we choose to designate her earthly guides, their function is simply 
to expound a written constitution, and to enforce, by spiritual censures, 
obedience to a spiritual and unseen ruler. 

"2. Because through this visible Church Christ acquires his wider 
mediatorial authority over the universe. As mediator, his prime re- 
lation is to those whom he comes to reconcile. The plan of grace, 
though last in development, is first in the Divine thought, the most 
stupendous of all God's works ; and the earth was built but as the stage 
on which the sublime drama of redemption might be enacted. The 
whole scheme of nature is therefore subordinated to it: and the ad- 
ministration of Providence is committed to Christ, for the prosecution 
of that grace which he came to inaugurate. Hence Paul testifies that 
he is given to be the Head over all things to the Church, 'which is 
his body;' through her as his fulness he himself 'filleth all in all.' 

"3. Christ, in his precious headship, heals the breach which sin has 
made between the creatures; and the visible Church, finally embracing 
all nations within her pale, bodies forth this grand result. The first 
transgression not only separated man from God, but seemed forever 
to have dissolved the brotherhood between the creatures also. From 
that day till now, the beasts of the field have been in revolt against 
the dominion of man, and the elements of nature are reclaimed under 
his control only through the discoveries of science. The one speech 
of the infant race has been broken into a thousand jarring tongues, 
and the earth has been covered with violence and blood. But the 
Reconciler came. Planting his cross as the great magnet of earth, he 
draws to himself his purchased seed, incorporates them into a society 
of love, and sends them forth to throw its bands around a shattered 
world. Prophecy, through her roll, shows in the dim perspective this 
Church embracing all lands and tongues and tribes within her arms, 
and 'the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord 
and of his Christ' The reconciliation ends not here. When this mili- 
tant Church shall be transfigured in the skies, to her visible worship 

His Course During the War. 259 

and fellowship will be added the 'innumerable company of angels' 
whom sin has never soiled. The sad breach is forever healed, and cher- 
ubim and a flaming sword shall no longer guard the way to the tree 
of life against guilty man. He who has 'made reconciliation for iniquity 
and brought in everlasting righteousness/ has also 'made an end of 
sins/ Sin, death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, and the redeemed 
tmiverse is brought into one under him who is Head over all. Saints 
and angels shall blend in harmony of praise around his throne, and the 
schism of sin be cancelled forever in the Church fellowship of heaven. 
"Fathers and Brethren, I must not shut down the gate upon the 
flood of this discourse, without pointing to the consolation for us in 
this day of darkness and trial, wrapped up in the headship of the ador- 
able Redeemer. What tenderness it gives to the whole doctrine of 
Providence! Once we trembled in our guilt and shame, and could not 
look upon the angry throne, to us 

"A seat of dreadful wrath, 
Which shot devouring flame.' 

But healing peace flowed into our wounded hearts, as we looked upon 
'God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.' In like manner 
the dispensations of Providence seem relentless and stem, as they 
frown upon us from 'the tmknown God;' but the dark clouds are 
drenched in soft axyi mellow light, as they are moved by the hands of 
our 'Immanuel, God with us.' All judgment is committed to the Son 
of man; can we not trust him, our elder brother, clothed with all 
our sympathies, who hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, 
and is able to succor in that he himself hath suffered? The name of 
this precious Jesus broke for us the spell of despair, when in the hour 
of legal conviction conscience hung up the ghastly catalogue of our 
sins against the Judgment throne. The name of Jesus will be the 
last upon our lips, softly whispered by the departing spirit as the last 
breath wafts it upward to the skies. It will be first upon our lips when 
the grave shall yield up its dead to meet the Lord in the air. Shall 
it not be always upon our lips, taking away the bitterness of our priv- 
ate and our public lot; when all these dispensations are read through 
an exposition of grace, and are seen throughout to be a discipline 
of love? 

"What safety also to the universe is this headship of Jesus! He who 
grasped the idea of creation as it lay a silent thought in the mind of 
God, can surely work out the eternal purpose in which it was framed. 
For this very end, he is given to be the Head over all things — that 
as he is 'before all things/ so 'by him shall all things consist/ The 
overturnings upon earth make no Assure in the one solemn purpose 
of the infinite Creator, and no sudden disclosures startle Him into 
surprise. The shuttle of history moves swiftly and blindly from age 
to age; but the great web is woven according to the pattern originally 
designed in the counsel of the Godhead. 

26o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"But he is Head over all things to the Church! Whilst, therefore, 
a purpose of grace remains to be fulfilled in that Church which he has 
graven on the palms of his hands and wears as a seal upon his heart, 
so long the world is safe in the keeping of him whose love is stronger 
than death. The Christian Church is to a Christian nation the ark 
of Jehovah's covenant; and we are here to-day in sublime faith to 
bear that ark upon our shoulders in the presence of this infant nation, 
as she passes under her baptism of blood. Let us gather with rever- 
ence around it, and sing with Luther the 46th Psalm : 'God is our refuge 
and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore will we 
not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be 
carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and 
be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, 
though the kingdoms be moved, and the earth melted — ^yet the Lord 
of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.* 

"What glory, too, surrounds the Church; an outer halo, a second 
rainbow to that which, like an emerald, John saw round the throne! 
She is the body of Christ, the bride, the Lamb's wife, whose 'beauty* 
the 'King hath greatly desired.' She is glorious in her 'raiment of 
needlework,' 'her clothing of wrought gold,' 'the fine linen clean and 
white, which is the righteousness of saints.' The Church of the living 
God! and, therefore, herself living by a secret li^p flowing from him 
who is life, and bestowed by the indwelling Spirit who is the quickener. 
The immortal Church of Christ, which survives all change and never 
knows decay! Alas, the paths of earth are strewn with the wrecks 
of broken empires, constructed by human wisdom and shattered through 
human folly and sin. But this Church of the Redeemer moves through 
them all upon the grand highway of history, and 'flourishes in immor- 
tal youth.' She rode upon the billows of a universal deluge, beneath 
whose gloomy depths lay a doomed and buried world. Patriarchs 
gathered beneath her shade in the aged and hoary past Moses pitched 
her tabernacle upon the sands of the wilderness, and beneath the frown- 
ing brows of Sinai. Prophets pointed out her pathway through the 
uprolling mists of the distant future. Through the unfolding ages she 
has moved securely on, while disastrous change has ground to powder 
and scattered to the winds the proudest dynasties of earth. Kings have 
bound her with fetters of brass; but the fair captive has taken again 
her harp from the willows, and God has made her walls salvation and 
her gates praise. Amidst the fires of martyrdom, she has risen younger 
from the ashes of her own funeral pile. Wooing the nations with her 
accents of love, she lengthens her cords to gather them into her broad 
pavilion. And when the whole frame of nature shall be dissolved, 
she will stand serene above the burning earth, to welcome her descend- 
ing Lord. Caught up by him into the heavens, she will gather into her 
communion there all the elder sons of God; still the immortal Church 

His Course During the War. 261 

of the Redeemer, outliving all time and henceforth counting her years 
upon the dial of eternity! 

"Do we understand, Fathers and Brethren, the mission of the Church 
given us here to execute? It is to lift up throughout the world our 
testimony for this headship of Christ The convocation of this As- 
sembly is in part that testimony. But a little while since, it was at- 
tempted in the most august court of our Church to place the crown of 
our Lord upon the head of Caesar — to bind that body, which is Christ's 
fulness, to the chariot in which that Caesar rides. The intervening 
months have sufficiently discovered the character of that State, under 
whose yoke this Church was summoned to bow her neck in meek obedi- 
ence. But in advance of these disclosures, the voice went up through- 
out our land, of indignant remonstrance against the usurpation, of 
solenm protest against the sacrilege. And now this Parliament of 
the Lord's freemen solemnly declares that, by the terms of her great 
charter, none but Jesus may be the King in Zion. Once more in this 
distant age and in these ends of the earth, the Church must declare 
for the supremacy of her Head, and fling out the consecrated ensign 
with the old inscription, *for Christ and his crown.* 

''Let this testimony be borne upon the winds over the whole earth, 
that he who is 'Head over all things to the Church,' 'ruleth in the king- 
dom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,' until all nations 
are brought to 'praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all 
whose works are truth and his ways judgment' Let us take this 
young nation now struggling into birth to the altar of God, and seal 
its loyalty to Christ, in the faith of that benediction which says, 'Blessed 
is that nation whose God is the Lord.' The footsteps of our King 
are to be seen in all the grand march of history, which begins and ends 
in a true theocracy. Our voice is to be the voice of one crying in the 
wilderness, 'prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the 
desert a highway for our God:' for he 'will overturn, overturn, over- 
turn, until he come whose right it is' — ^and, 'the kingdoms of this world 
shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.' 

"Above all, it is ours to bear aloft the Redeemer's cross, and with the 
finger ever pointing to say, with the Baptist on the banks of Jordan, 
'Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!' 
May He who wears the crown make us to feel the power of that cross ! 
Brethren, we have to-day been gazing tnto heaven after our ascending 
Lord, ascending to his headship and his crown. From his gracious 
throne he unfolds the sacred parchment on which our charter and com- 
mission are engrossed: 'Go ye into all the world and disciple all na- 
tions.' With pathetic gesture, he also points over mountains, continents 
and seas to the 'other sheep which are not of this fold,' wandering 
upon the bleak heather, under the dark star of some idol god. May 
the rushing mighty wind of the Pentecostal day fill this house where 
we are sitting! and may the tongues of fire rest upon each of this 

262 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Assembly! Emblem of the power with which the story of suffering 
love shall subdue an apostate world! Sinking personal ambition, and 
forgetful of sectional aggrandizement, let us strive to equip the Giurch 
with the necessary agencies for the prosecution of her solemn work. 
Let us build her towers and establish her bulwarks just where the 
most effective assaults may be made upon the kingdoms of Satan; 
that 'her righteousness may go forth as brightness and her salvation 
as a lamp that burneth;' and Zion become *a crown of glory/ a 'royal 
diadem in the hand of our God.'" 

The preacher was at once chosen as moderator of the As- 

The whole of his work in this Assembly seems to have been 
on the same high level with his sermon. The Assembly in- 
dulged in no political decisions and in no political discussions 
but devoted itself exclusively to the affairs of Christ's king- 
dom; and even uttered high and memorable testimony con- 
cerning the spirituality of the Qiurch. 

Returning to New Orleans, Dr. Palmer devoted himself to 
the performance of his duties as pastor till about the first of 
April, 1862. Letters from some to whom he ministered during 
all these months of 186 1 and 1862 in New Orleans, show that 
he continued to be, notwithstanding the tempestuous times and 
his passionate devotion to the Southern cause, the most help- 
ful of pastors and preachers. 

Meanwhile he had found time to prepare a paper on "The 
Art of Conversation," which appeared in the Southern Presby- 
terian Review, January, 1862, — ^an article betraying a thorough 
philosophy of the art and presenting a noble plea for its culti- 
vation as a means of elevating the tone of social intercourse. 
The production should be published as a brochure and widely 

Early in April, 1862, Dr. Palmer left New Orleans, intending 
to visit the army of General Albert Sidney Johnston, and later 
to attend the meeting of the General Assembly of his Church, 
appointed to convene in Memphis, Tenn. He seems to have 
been with General Johnston's army immediately before the 
battle of Shiloh. According to tradition, astride a horse, 
he delivered a thrilling address to a portion of Johnston's army 
just before it went into the battle. 

In view of the presence of the conflicting armies in the near 
vicinity of the city of Memphis, and the consequent difficulty 
and danger of meeting in that place, provision was made that 

His Course During the War. 263 

the General Assembly, instead of convening in Memphis, should 
gather at Montgomery, Ala. Dr. Palmer was his Presby- 
tery's commissioner to the Assembly. It had been his pur- 
pose to attend — z purpose which he failed to realize. He 
found himself pressed by the Governor of Mississippi into the 
patriotic function of stumping the State with 'a view to the rec- . 
onciliation of those disaffected with the Government of the . 
Confederacy at Richmond. Naturally, to the Mississippians ^ 
insufficient means seemed to have been taken to protect them 
against the enemy. It was feared that they would be little 
disposed to co-operate with the Confederacy. Dr. Palmer de- 
livered patriotic addresses at various points and with fine effect. 
Of his address at Jackson The Mississippian says : 

"This distinguished orator, philosopher and divine, whose services 
in the cause of civil and religious liberty have excited the admiration 
and gratitude of the whole Southern Confederacy, addressed on yes- 
terday one of the largest and most intelligent audiences ever assembled 
in the Representatives' Hall. It was a most profound, philosophical 
and exhaustive exposition of the grounds of our defence in the great 
struggle in progress before the bar of God and in the forum of nations. 
It covered the whole ground upon which we rest our cause, and chal- 
lenged the verdict of the world. It was designed to present the argu- 
ment upon which the Christian moralist and patriot may rely, and upon 
which we may justify the position assumed by the seceded States. 
And most triumphantly did he present it But we shall attempt no 
analysis of what could in no sense be said to be a political speech, or 
popular address. It was but giving voice to thought almost too deep 
for utterance, such as the plummet line of ephemeral politicians, in 
their discussion of the subjecf never sounded. 

''As his vast audience hung entranced, they knew not which most 
to admire, the charm of classic imagery, the rich and glowing elo- 
quence which flowed from his lips in words almost divine, the grand 
and massive proportions of the argument, which challenged conviction 
and defied criticism, or the catholic spirit of the Christian patriot who 
confides in the justice of his cause and the justice of his God. 

"Dr. Palmer's style of speaking is wholly unlike that of the sensa- 
tional preachers and orators. There is no straining after effect or 
display. He has no time to think of the meretricious ornaments of 
the mere rhetorician. His soul is too deeply imbued with the mighty 
theme and the mighty thoughts which sway it, to give heed to these 
things. The weightier matters of the law claim his attention. The 
graces of oratory and poetry fall in, only because they were bom in 
him. What is said of Lord Brougham may with equal truth be said 
of Dr. Palmer — 'he wields the club of Hercules entwined with roses.* " 

264 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

The following memento of this trip has been preserved and 
is a prized possession of Mrs. Gussie Palmer Morris, Mobile, 

"Headquarters Western Department, 
"Quartermaster's Office, May 21, 1862. 
"Capt: The commanding General of the Department directs that you 
furnish a saddle and bridle to the Rev. Dr. Palmer attached to the 
Washington Artillery of New Orleans. 

"Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

*"GuY G. McLean, Major and P. QYm. 
"Capt. E. A. Dcslinde, A.Q.M., Corinth." 

Toward the end of April, 1862, Commodore David G. Farra- 
gut's fleet braved the hazards of the Confederate batteries 
and captured New Orleans. May i, Butler led his army into 
the city. Dr. Palmer was looked upon by Union men as an 
arch rebel and fomenter of treason. His friends advised him 
^ot to return. His family were gotten out of the city and into 
, his possession. He carried them, first, to Hazelhurst, Miss.; 
/ and in August, to Columbia, S. C, at which place he established 
/ them in the home of Mrs. George Howe, Mrs. Palmer's mother. 
During the period while his family was at Hazelhurst, Dr. 
Palmer seems to have again labored with the army of the West, 
now under Bragg. It was probably near the close of this per- 
iod that he was disappointed of a congregation to preach to, 
after having seen a fine one assembled. In view of the alarm- 
ing conditions then existing throughout the South, the people 
had been requested to observe a day of fasting and prayer on a 
certain Thursday a little after the middle of August, 1862. Dr. 
Palmer being in Chattanooga and stopping at the home of the 
Rev. T. H. McCallie, D.D., the pastor of the First Presby- 
terian Church in Chattanooga, was requested to conduct the 
service. "The house was crowded with citizens and soldiers. 
Dr. Palmer arose to pray, the audience rising with him and 
standing ; scarcely had he begun to pray when the scream of a 
shell flying over the church was heard, and the distant boom of 
a cannon from the opposite side of the Tennessee River. In a 
moment came another shell screaming and another cannon 
booming. The soldiers began quietly to withdraw, then the 
citizens, until presently the church was almost empty, and still 
the good doctor prayed calmly on. When he had closed his 
eyes the church was full of people, when he opened them it 

^It is difficult to discipher this signature. 

His Course During the War. 265 

was on empty pews." "It was an advance of the enemy's 
cavalry outposts. The party had crept in under Bragg's 
guard." ^ 

Having in the latter part of August established his family 
in Columbia, S. C, during the fall and winter succeeding he 
supplied a mission chapel two miles out from the town; and 
taught in the Seminary during the session 1862-1863, having 
been oflFered the professorship made vacant by the death of 
Dr. James Henley Thornwell, August i, 1862. 

Dr. Palmer delivered a masterly eulogy upon Dr. Thornwell 
September 17, 1862. Happy the eulogist with such a subject, 
and happy the subject with such a eulogist. The eulogy was de- 
livered in the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, at the 
request of the officers of the church and in the presence of the 
Board of Directors of the Theological Seminary. It was the 
germ of the very fine biography of Dr. Thornwell which Dr. 
Palmer was subsequently to write. Beginning with the thought 
that we must all reverence great men, he asserts that such an 
one has passed from their midst, and then draws the following 
outlines of ThomweU's portrait: 

"A man gifted with the highest genius, — ^not that fatal gift of genius 
which, without guidance, so often blasts its possessor, its baleful gleam 
blighting everything pure and true on earth, — ^but genius disciplined 
by the severest culture, and harnessing itself to the practical duties 
of life, until it wrought a work full of blessing and comfort to mankind ; 
a mind which ranged through the broad field of human knowledge, 
gathered up the fruits of almost universal learning, and wove garlands 

•This statement was taken in large part from the Manual of the 
First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Tenn., for the year 1004. 
But we have ventured to change the date from 1863 to 1862, not with- 
out some hesitation since the compilers of that Manual should know 
the local history and since Some little other evidence of probable weight 
points to the year 1863. Our reasons for making the change of date 
are (i) that a writer in a Louisville, Ky., paper of 1870 tells the inci- 
dent and dates its occurrence in 1862; (2) that Dr. John W. Caldwell, 
son-in-law to Dr. Palmer, and his family say that the incident occurred 
in 1862, and that Dr. Palmer was not in Chattanooga in August, 1863, 
a statement confirmed at least with considerable probable force by 
utterances of Dr. Palmer in his report on his work of that summer, 
made to the General Assembly of 1864. Should further investigation 
show that it was delivered in 1863, it will also show, we believe, that 
it was delivered the last of June or first days of July. 

266 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

of beauty around discussions the most thorny and abstruse; an intel- 
lect steeped in philosophy, which soared upon its eagle wings into 
the highest regions of speculative thought, then stooped with meek 
docility and worshipped in childlike faith at the cross of Christ; a 
man who held communion with all of every age that had eternal 
thoughts, and then brought the treasures hoarded in the literature of 
the past, and sanctified them to the uses of practical religion. Yet, a 
man not coldly great, but who could stoop from lofty contemplation 
to sport and toy with loving ones around his hearthstone ; with a heart 
warm with the instincts of friendship, so brave, so generous and true 
that admiration of his genius was lost in affection for the man, and 
the breath of envy never withered a single leaf of all the honors with 
which a single generation crowned him. Alas! that death should have 
power to crush out such a life! Our Chrysostom is no more! The 
'Golden Mouth' is sealed up in silence forever! 

u t 

The chord, the harp's full chord is hushed; 
The voice hafh died away. 
Whence music like sweet waters gushed 
But yesterday.' 

"The glory of man is as the flowers of grass ; 'our fathers, where are 
they; and the prophets, do they live forever?* The men who with 
their heroic deeds make history to-day, become its theme and song 
to-morrow !" 

Having dashed this outline on his canvas the speaker went 
on* with telling strokes and deft touches to fill it in, giving 
one of the most brilliant pieces of literary portraiture in the 
modern tongues. 

December 20, 1862, he pronounced a funeral address over 
the remains of General Maxey Gregg, also in the Presbyterian 
Church in Columbia, S. C. The address is fully up to the high 
level of Dr. Palmer's best work. He was the master of the 
pathetic and the sentimental. The first paragraph of this ad- 
dress is given because of the light it throws on the conditions 
within the State and the Confederacy at the time : 

"We meet this day in the house of God to mourn — to mourn for 
ourselves, and for the State, the mother that has borne us all! When 
death comes in at the window and steals away its victim from some 
private circle, a whole community will yield obedience to the law of 
Christian sympathy and weep with those that weep. But to-day the 
State, like the Spartan mother of old, receives through us one of her 
noblest sons upon his shield, and pours out her grief upon his venerated 
form. Alas ! Our bereaved mother ! How often of late she has strained 
her dead sons to her bosom, in that last embrace and then turned aside. 

His Course During the War. 267 

like Rachel, to weep, 'refusing to be comforted, because they are not!* 
Where is the family amongst us that does not whisper its secret grief 
around the evening hearth ? And where the village cemetery whose 
sacred enclosure does not shelter some patriot's grave? Her martyred 
sons sleep everywhere upon her soil; upon the mountain's grassy 
slope, beneath the peaceful watching of the silent stars, to where the 
ocean fingers the earth with its foam, and chants with its deep bass 
the low, funeral dirge! But here, to-day, in the center of them all, 
with his sword beneath his head, we bury the gallant chieftain who 
led the strife in which they bravely fell. What language can rise to 
the solemn majesty of this assembly, or speak with the pathos which 
belongs to unuttered sorrow ! Were I to follow the impulse of my own 
heart, I would cover my head, and sit a silent mourner beside that bier, 
rather than be the voice to utter the wail which now rends every 
breast throughout this commonwealth." 

March 27, 1863,. he delivered a discourse before the Legis- 
lature of Georgia, on "The Rainbow Round the Throne; or 
Judgment Tempered with Mercy, " Rev. 4 : 2, 3. The day had 
been appointed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, 
by Mr. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States. 

Establishing on solid grounds the thesis that there is a union 
of justice and mercy in God's government of the world,* he 
next raised the question as to whether they could determine 
"whether the sufferings of our beloved band fell upon it in 
the way of penal judgment, or of paternal discipline." He 
asks: "Upon the dark background of the cloud which now 
hangs so low and drenches it with sorrow and with blood, can 
we discover the sign of the rainbow, the emblem of mercy 
and hope?" "To these questions," he says, "I will return the 
long pondered and deeply cherished convictions of my own 
heart; and may God help me this day to speak comfortably to 
Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, 
that her iniquity is pardoned and that she shall receive of the 
Lord double for all her sins !" He makes and unfolds with all 
his fertility of lofty illustration the following points, viz: 
(i) I recognize in the schism which has rent asunder the 
American people only a new application of the law by which 
God has ever governed the world; that of breaking in two a 
nation which has grown too strong for its virtue, in order to 

•It is disappointing to find that in this argument Dr. Palmer inci- 
dentally champions the view that the Civil Government should ac- 
knowledge Christ as God of Providence. 

268 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

its preservation and continuance. (2) We make our appeal 
to Him who ruled beneath the rainbow, on the ground tiiat, 
touching this controversy between us and our foes, we are 
blameless. (Through five and eighty years of our united his- 
tory we have never broken the covenant sworn for us by our 
fathers; though a partial and unjust legislation has discrim- 
inated against us, turning the products of our fields into their 
coffers, and draining our wealth to build up the palaces of 
their merchant princes, etc.) (3) I derive consolation 
from the marked interpositions of God in our favor, during 
the present struggle ; coupled with his frequent disappointment 
of some of our reasonable expectations. (4) The North can- 
not succeed against the South except through the perpetration 
of a double crime without a parallel in the annals of the race, 
— the extermination of both tihe white and the black race upon 
our soil. (5) Our cause is preeminently the cause of God him- 
self, and every blow struck by us is in defense of his suprem- 

The sermon makes pathetic reading now; but under the 
magic of his voice and port it could hardly have failed to make 
heroes of all who heard it. He preferred death to subjugation ; 
and he believed that he and his compatriots were fighting 
God's battles as well as those of his dear Southland. 

The reader will recall that years back Dr. and Mrs. Palmer 
had shown much kindness to Mr. R. H. Reid, then a College 
and Seminary student in Columbia. They were now in rela- 
tively narrow circumstances. Mr. Reid's people seized the op- 
portunity to do them a kindly service, by making a gift of home- 
spun for clothing. The following letter from Mrs. Palmer both 
notes the fact and throws a light on their family history which 
justifies its insertion here: 

"Bramwell Courthouse, April 18, 1863. 

"My Dear Friend : I am here with Fanny, who is very feeble, hoping 
that change will improve her health. I intended to have written to 
you before I left Columbia, begging you to thank the ladies of your 
congregation who were kind enough to send me the homespun. I can 
assure you it was a very acceptable present and I have made up the 
dresses for the three oldest children and they have been .very much 
admired. The children feel quite proud to wear a dress spun and 
woven in South Carolina and they mean to keep them as mementos 
of the Civil War. 

"I am glad to be able to tell you that Mr. Hutson is in better health 

His Course During the War. 269 

than he has been and I hope it will not be long before he is entirely 
well. They feel the death of their little boy very much. 

''I expect to leave this place for Savannah on Monday to spend a 
week or two. I was obliged to leave the other children and of course 
I will not stay away any longer than I am obliged to, but I feel it to 
be my duty to do everything in my power to restore Fanny's health. 
Sometimes I fear we will not have her long, she looks so very feeble. 
But I can only leave her in the hands of our Father in heaven who 
does all for the best. 

"If we were keeping house I would insist on your coming down to 
the Assembly and bringing Mrs. Reid and the children. I sigh to have 
a home of my own once more. 

"Give a great deal of love to Mrs. Reid and kiss the children for me, 
especially my namesake. I often think of his fat, round face. I will 
send the likeness you asked for some of these days. I had a good 
many in New Orleans hke the one you saw on the mantelpiece at moth- 
er's but they will be of no use now. 

"Yours very truly, 

"M. A. Palmer." 

May, 1863, the General Assembly of our Church met in Co- 
lumbia, S. C. Dr. Palmer was a member of the body and the 
man of paramount influence in it. He was the chairman of 
many important committees and acquitted himself with his 
usual dignity and ability. To that Assembly came the news 
of the great Stonewall Jackson's death, of whom "it has been 
tersely and truthfully and therefore beautifully said, that in the 
army he was the expression of his country's confidence in God 
and in itself." Palmer's hand drafted the minute, at once ex- 
quisite and noble, which the body adopted on the occasion. He 
took an earnest hand in the conference held by the Assembly 
upon the subject of the religious wants of the army. Having 
offered to do service in the West, on his own charges, if he 
should be left to some measure of discretion as to the length 
of time, he was made a Cbmmissioner of the Assembly to the 
Army of Tennessee. This Assembly also elected Dr. Palmer 
to fill the chair of Didactic and Polemic Theology, in Columbia 
Seminary, provisionally, for a year. A party would have 
elected him without conditions, but he had a bodv of followers 
who thought of New Orleans and of his obligation to those 
people in case the way should be opened for his return. From 
the reports of the debate on the subject it is clear that some 
members of the Assembly were not without hope that the Con- 
federate forces would again soon be in possession of the place. 

270 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Soon after the adjournment of the Assembly he is found 
with the Army of Tennessee, busy in the distribution of Chris- 
tian literature, and in preaching the Gospel to the soldiers. 
About the first of July he was called home to minister to his 
eldest daughter, who was fast sinking to the grave. 

His letters to her show how much he had hoped of her. He 
would have seen her developed by the education of a man as 
well as by that of the most refined woman. But already, ere 
they had left New Orleans, consumption had begun to prey 
upon her. While in the public schools of New Orleans she de- 
veloped this dreadful disease. Coming away from New Orle- 
ans, in May, 1862, with a cough, she had grown worse in Ha- 
zelhurst, and still worse after their removal to Columbia. The 
father had been thrown into great mental conflict by his ap- 
pointment as Commissioner to the Army of Tennessee, by the 
General Assembly of 1863. On the one hand he had despaired 
of her recovery ; but on the other, he thought it probable that 
she would linger many months, and accordingly resolved to 
leave her with her mother and with God. The parting was 
agonizing to both daughter and father. She uttered only one 
sentence, "Father, you are going so far; and I am so ill," — 
a sentence which was to keep "ringing" in his ears amidst the 
drums and cannon of the camp, a sentence which occasioned 
his asking himself daily whether God did indeed require him 
to thus add to the afflictions of his dying child. He took ad- 
vantage of "the confusion of the retreat from Shelbyville to 
run home and look upon the pale face once more." He arrived 
in the early morning and she was \ still asleep. Awaking in a 
few moments, she "burst into tears, and said twice, *I knew he 
would come, I knew he would come.' Just as a ray of light 
illumines a dark room, so this one exclamation revealed to the 
father what for weeks had been passing in the secret chambers 
of her soul." It was an exclamation so full of love, so full 
of trust, that he bowed his head "and wept like a woman." He 
saw that her end was very near and gave himself to attendance 
on her till God should take her. On Sabbath evening, July 12, 
he had a beautiful talk with her about death. She had been 
a sweet Christian for years. He had felt that she was ready 
to go, but since her sickness he had not talked to her of her 
readiness to meet God lest he should tend thereby to defeat 
her recovery. Now he feels that the end is so near that he 
must for her own sweet sake, for his and for the mother's, ex- 

His CbURSE During the War. 271 

amine her grounds of hope. The conversation may be read 
in the "Broken Home" ' — a talk very comforting to both. Four 
days later she went to heaven ; one day and night they watched 
by the dust so precious in their eyes; and Saturday, July 19, 
1863, they laid her down in the beautiful cemetery to sleep until 
the trumpet's call. 

"But the agony," he afterwards wrote, "of turning away, 
and leaving her alone — leaving her alone whom we had so 
tenderly cherished, that no wind of heaven blew roughly upon 
her, this, O God ! is known only to Thee and to us. But we 
have exceeding comfort in this loss. We have no misgivings 
as to her eternal happiness. She had offered while in life and 
health the most abundant evidence of a change of heart; and 
during her long illness, as she had often said, 'This world 
was dead to her.' The apprehension of death which she ex- 
pressed arose from constitutional timidity, which was sunk 
at last in a calm, clear trust in her Redeemer— except as she 
dreaded its physical pangs, which, thanks to God, she was mer- 
cifully spared. 

"Besides all this, she has left behind a most precious memory. 
I cannot say all that I could, lest I should be deemed extrava- 
gant ; or at least, lie open to the suspicion that, as death throws 
a halo over the departed, I am under the spell of a fond and de- 
lusive affection. Yet I have said of her, long before this sad 
bereavement, since she was twelve years of age I could find 
nothing in her to amend. Watching over her with a parent's 
anxiety to mould her character aright, there was nothing to 
correct. She has left a memory in which there is nothing we 
would desire changed; as we travel over it in thought, every 
spot is green and lovely to the eye. I had learned to reverence 
her. The attributes which she displayed were so beautiful 
that I, who sought to shape and guide her aright, was often 
reproved by virtue superior to mine own. Strange that we did 
not see through all those years that God was secretly educating 
her for himself; and when she was ripe, she was plucked to 
be with him. Her memory is a sweet and an awful thing to us. 
We think of her not as dead, but as translated to be with 
Christ. Our lovely flower bloomed awhile on its earthly stem, 

and then 

'She was exhaled — ^her Creator drew 
Her spirit, as the sun the morning dew/* 

' Pp. 35-38. • Broken Home, pp. 47-40. 

272 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

The First Qiurch of Columbia had become vacant in June, 
1863, by the resignation of the pastorate by the Rev. F. P. 
MuUally. Dr. Palmer was asked to supply the church, which 
he gladly did during such periods as he was in Columbia to 
the end of the war. The number of new briefs made in these 
months attest the fact that he still preserved his habits of hard, 
steady and efficient labor over the Word of God. 

When the term-time in Columbia Seminary came to hand, 
he gave himself also to the performance of his professorial 
duties and the numerous calls for occasional services which 
came to him. 

"Occupying the chair of Theology only provisionally," he 
writes, at the close of the session 18(53-1864, "I have not felt 
at liberty to depart from the method of instruction presented by 
my predecessor — ^which was to combine the two upper classes, 
and to carry them over the entire course in two years. 
During the past two sessions, these classes have been conducted, 
accordingly, through the whole of Theology, extending the last 
year, from the beginning to the application of the scheme of 
Redemption. The leading text-book has been the "Institutes" 
of Calvin — ^the students being required to examine, in connec- 
tion with it, the works of Turretin, of Principal Hill, and of 
Dick, — ^and the free use also of Hodge's "Outline of Theology," 
which has been very profitable in mapping out the special top- 
ics for investigation. The manuscript lectures of Dr. Thorn- 
well being fortunately in my possession have also been read 
to the classes, and enlarged upon in oral explanation. These, 
with partial lectures of my own, on topics not embraced in 
the scheme of Dr. Thornwell, have supplemented the course 
of instruction in this department. 

"The lectures delivered last year, on the Evidences, have 
not been repeated this year, owing simply to the fact, that the 
Junior Gass has, at no period of the year, been exactly organ- 
ized, and also to the fact that the only permanent member of 
this class has been disabled by physical infirmity from the full 
prosecution of his studies. No class, however, has been per- 
mitted to leave the Seminary without going carefully through 
this branch of theological training and the deficiency of the 
past year may be easily retrieved by a combination of the 
classes during the next session." • 

•From Dr. Palmer's Report as Professor in Columbia Seminary 
to the General Assembly, 1864, a.d., p. 299. 

His Course During the War. 273 

In April, 1864, Dr. Palmer was calkd upon by the ladies of 
South Carolina to deliver an address of welcome to the "Sol- 
diers of the Legion and Gentlemen of the Army," who, after 
an absence of three years, had returned to their native State. 
The address was afterwards published in The Daily Southern 
Guardian. It is an elegant and gracious welcome, accompanied 
by an attempt at an expose of the conditions of American civ- 
ilization, the meaning of the great struggle in which they were 
engaged, and the grounds on which the South still had the 
right to hope for success. It brought with it a confession that 
he sometimes wished it was his to bear arms. Turning to 
General Wade Hampton, who sat on the platform with him, 
he said: 

"The day will come when that blade which gleams so brightly by 
your side in the hour of battle will hang as a relic upon your ancestral 
walls, and there will come forth some fair haired urchin who, as he 
takes it down and draws the rusty blade from its scabbard, will say, 
'This was the sword with which my great-grandfather passed through 
many battles of the Revolution of i860 and '64.* Mark you, he will 
not call it 'the great rebellion,' as neither you nor I do, but a mighty 
and stupendous revolution, which gave freedom to our land. At the 
same time there may be a flaxen haired girl who, as she turns over 
the old pages of her family history and her eye falls upon the name 
of 'Hampton,' will call to her remembrance a family tradition, that 
on a certain April day seventy-five or eighty years ago, her great-grand- 
father pinned the emblem of South Carolina and the Confederacy 
as near as he could over General Hampton's heart 

[Suiting the action to the word the speaker advanced to 
General Hampton, and with a grace that cannot be described 
in language, attached to his breast an exquisite Palmetto badge 
interwoven with a miniature Confederate flag. There was 
scarcely a dry eye in the vast audience, and the brave soldier 
himself could not restrain the tears, which the act and its 
associations involuntarily called forth.] 

"And now General," resumed Dr. Palmer, "this is a secret which 
neither you nor your honored lady must ask to be revealed. A daughter 
of Carolina pins that symbol of the State and of the Confederacy on 
your heart. I have only to say in the name of the fair lady, see to it 
that South Carolina and the Confederacy are saved; and [turning to 
the concourse] I now point you ladies of South Carolina to the Chev- 

274 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

alier Bayard of the South — ^the chivalric knight, 'without fear and with- 
out reproach.'"" 

He had found time, during the early part of the year 1864, 
also to oppose the union between the Church of which he was 
such a distinguished representative and the United S3niod of 
the South. It will be recalled that in 1838 a split culminated 
between the two parties, New and Old School, in the Presby- 
terian Church in the United States of America. The New 
School party in that year withdrew and established itself as 
an independent church. It is a fact that the New School party 
had embraced many in it who cared little either for a thor- 
ough-going Presbyterian polity or for sound Calvinism. The 
New School party and the New School Church must lie under 
the charge of latitudinarianism in doctrine and polity. While 
this must be conceded it is also true that not a few went with 
the New School party, at the time of the split, who had no 
considerable sympathy with these forms of laxity. These per- 
sons had taken umbrage at the exscinding acts passed by the 
Assembly of 1837, an Assembly in which an Old School ma- 
jority and Old School measures prevailed. To put the matter 
in their own way: they held that "no judicatory of the Church, 
can for any cause, by an act of legislation, constitutionally con- 
demn or exclude from the Church, ministers or private mem- 
bers, without a process of trial, such as is prescribed in the 
Constitution of the Presbyterian Church." They accordingly 
went out with the New School men and helped to form the 
new body. 

The New School Church soon developed a strong tendency 
toward the handling of political questions in its courts. In 
particular, it developed a strong anti-slavery party, and at- 
tempted to discipline Southern slaveholders as such. The re- 
sult of this departure was the split of i8s7-'8, which resulted 
in the establishment of the Synod of the South. This body 
was now about to be taken into union with the Presb)rterian 
^yChurch of the Confederate States. It was, in genesis, a por- 
! tion of the party that had been guilty of the toleration of Hop- 
) kinsianism, Taylorism, and other New England theological 
A" fads : it had shown indifference to a sound Presbyterian polity. 
The Synod of the South had never formally repudiated these 

"Copied from The Daily Southern Guardian, Columbia, S. C, June 
10, 1864: "Dr. Palmer's Address." 

His Course During the War. 


errors up to 1863. Dr. Palmer was fully alive to these and 
other such uncomfortable facts. 

In the year 1863, however, committees had been appointed 
by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the 
Confederate States and the Synod of the South, respectively, 
to confer as to terms of union. These committees had met and, 
after conferring jointly had agreed to propose to their respec- 
tive bodies a "Basis of Union." The "Basis of Union" was 
published and speedily met the general approval. Dr. Palmer 
was not so easily satisfied. He regarded, and properly, the 
exscinding acts as a piece of blessed surgery, necessary to 
the preservation of Bible Presbyterianism in the great body 
on which the operations were performed; he had little sym- 
pathy with those who, because they had more sorrow for the 
excision of the offending synods than they had love for the 
truths of God which these synods were trampling into the mire, 
went out with them. He knew that the Synod of the South 
had in it one man of views out of accord with our Confession, 
that his brethren had elected this man to a chair in the sem- 
inary which they proposed to establish, and that, only a year 
or so before, this man had claimed to have the support of his 
brethren in some of his non-confessional views. 

In the April number of the Southern Presbyterian Review, 
1864, Dr. Palmer appeared in an article of forty-two pages on 
"The Proposed Plan of Union between the General Assembly 
in the Confederate States of America and the United S3niod of 
the South." In the most knightly way he dealt with the de- 
fects of the Synod of the South and with the Basis of Union, 
giving to the latter the most searching and effective criticism 
which it met with. By skillfully interpreting the "Basis of Un- 
ion" in the light of published writings of the Rev. Dr. A. H. H. 
Boyd, of Winchester, Va., the great representative of the New 
School theology in the Synod of the South, he made it to ap- 
pear a very doubtful thing. 

When the General Assembly convened, in Charlotte, N. C, 
in May, 1864, Dr. Palmer was a member of the body and 
along with Dr. Adger, of Columbia, gave expression to his 
opposition to the movement in the form in which it was be- 
ing carried on. His speech in opposition was described as "ele- 
gant in style and in a good spirit." He began by expressing 
his admiration of unity, but his conviction that "charity moves 
on the poles of truth." He asked whether the two bodies were 


276 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

sufficiently agreed as to be able to live together in harmony. 
He asserted that he did not confide in the United Body, be- 
cause: (i) They did not at the time of the separation of the 
Old and New School sympathize with the General Assembly 
in its efforts to maintain the truth. (2) The testimony con- 
cerning them is conflicting. Some assert their soundness ; but 
others with equal positiveness their unsoundness. (3) They 
seem never to have made a clear and unreserved subscription 
to the Standards. He doubted, moreover, the constitutional 
right of the Assembly to take in the body in the way proposed, 
which would make the "Basis of Union" a part, and a para- 
mount part, of the Standards of the body resulting from the 
union. He would not express himself as unalterably opposed 
to it provided safe grounds of union could be found — grounds 
such as would save our Standards intact.*^ 

The truth is that there were three unsound men in the New 
School body in 1864. One of these. Dr. A. H. H. Boyd, was a 
man of brains and character. His writings had greatly im- 
pressed Dr. Palmer. Had Dr. Boyd been a true representative 
of his Church in the matter of theology, Dr. Palmer had been 
right in his attitude. But Dr. Boyd had no following in his 
theological views, and only two known sympathizers. The 
Virginia men in the Assembly, with Dr. Dabney in the lead, 
knew the ministers and elders of the Synod of the South well, 
the members of that body being found mostly in Virginia, 
vTennessee and North Mississippi. The project for union after 
the modifications, the chief of which provided for uniting 
"on the basis of our existing standards only," carried over- 

,^ It is not known that Dr. Palmer ever on the one hand re- 
gretted his stand on this important subject, or on the other, 
ever saw occasion to regret the action of the Church. 

To this Assembly Dr. Palmer made a very modest report of 

/ his services during the preceding year as Commissioner to the 

l^ Army of Tennessee. 

He said his connection with the army was very brief and 
as a commissioner amounted to very little ; that if he had done 
any good it was by preaching to the soldiers; that he had 
preached in all the brigades and nearly all the regiments of 
one corps of the Army of Tennessee, while it was encamped 

" Central Presbyterian, June 2, 1864, Report of the General Assembly. 

His Course During the War. 277 

around Shelbyville; that when the army fell back to Chatta- 
nooga, finding that he could do nothing, he went home just in 
time to go with a beloved daughter, as far as the living are 
permitted to go down into the valley and shadow of death; 
that he had been much impressed by the greatness of the work 
God was carrying on among our troops ; that it had no parallel 
in the history of the world; and that he regarded it as a spe- 
cial sign hung out from the throne of God, of his favor to 
our people. 

This Assembly made Dr. Palmer Provisional Professor of 
Didactic and Polemic Theology again for the year 1864-1865. 

From the Assembly he returned to Columbia and continued 
to supply the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church. 

In his absence he yearned for his people in New Orleans, 
that he might be comforted together with them by the mutual 
faith of them and him. For fear of increasing their political 
troubles he long refrained from writing to them; but at 
length the pent up floods of yearning burst forth in the fol- 
lowing letter: 


Columbia, S. C, May 20, 1864. 
To my companions in sorrow and in the fellowship of Jesus, the mem- 

hers of the First Presbyterian Church and Congregation in the City 

of New Orleans: 

"Dearly beloved Brethren: Two entire years have elapsed since 
I departed from you, expecting in three weeks to return to my pastoral 
work. Some of you will perhaps recall the sadness of my last dis- 
course, just before we sat down together around the table of our dying 
Lord; for which I was playfully rallied by several, as though I had 
preached under a, heavy presentiment of evil. It was, however, not 
exactly so. I only knew that the times were exceedingly disjointed, 
and that I was to be absent for a season. No one could foresee what a 
day might bring forth: and under this general feeling of uncertainty, 
I uttered the words which now seem as though they were an uncon- 
scious prophecy of a long farewell. How little did I then anticipate the 
dreadful catastrophe which prevented my return; and which, from that 
day to this, has cast me forth a wanderer upon the face of the earth ! 
But your lot has been harder even than my own : and often, oh ! how 
often, has my heart yearned to commune with you, and to pour forth 
the feelings with which it has been burdened ! One fear has, however, 
always restrained me — ^that of compromising you and of exposing the 
Church to severer afflictions, if my letters should unfortunately be 
intercepted. Nothing but this has prevented me from frequently at- 
tempting to strengthen your faith in these dark and bitter days, and 
to bring to those who mourn amongst you the consolations of God. 

278 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

It has been a great trial to me, to be compelled thus to lock up within 
my own breast the affection which yearned to flow forth freely to you. 
But I could not bring myself to run the hazard of increasing your bur- 
dens for my own g^tification. I am at length weary of forebearing. 
The fire which has been so long shut up in my bones will burst forth, 
and I now commit this sheet into the hands of Him who holds even the 
winds in his fist, praying him to give a safe direction, and to make 
it only a source of comfort to those to whom it is addressed. 

"Whilst denying myself the pleasure of communion with you, I 
have sought compensation by indulging the visions of fancy which viv- 
idly represented scenes once so familiar to me. Sometimes, I surround 
myself with my books, which again seem to look down, like old and 
intimate friends, from their cases in my study. Then I transfer myself 
to the dear old pulpit, which I had learned to reverence, as a king 
his throne. It has required little imagination to people the pews with 
their old occupants; and thus to reproduce, one by one, the families 
of my own happy charge, just as they were accustomed to sit down 
the long-drawn aisles of that grand and beautiful sanctuary. The dear 
children of the flock were daguerreotyped before me, exactly as I 
was wont to see them gathered into classes in the Sabbath-school. 
When weary of the large assembly, it needed only the waving of the 
wand to remand all to their several homes: and I would find myself 
now treading the familiar streets of our city, house after house rising 
up before the mind just as of yore when my hand was upon each door- 
bell. The very furniture of a hundred dwellings has revolved before 
me in the ceaseless panorama — even to the beds beside which I have 
sat and knelt in my visits as 'a son of consolation' to the sick and dy- 
ing saint. Thus has memory traveled again and again over the past; 
and in silent thought, I have held converse with many whom common 
suffering has drawn nearer than ever to my heart. From these reveries 
I would be startled by the sickening thought, 'all this is of the past, 
and the past can never be again;' while this distrust would in its turn 
be drowned in pleasing anticipations of a happy restoration to you, 
and fancy has pictured a thousand faces, radiant with patriotic joy, 
bidding me welcome to church and pulpit, and strange emotions have 
filled my bosom in thinking of the first sermon I should preach in my 
own church and to my own people. Thus I have amused the hours of 
my weary exile, finding in these exhilarating anticipations a prophecy 
of bright and happy days yet before us. Those days will certainly 
come : may God keep your faith and mine alive, to watch for the early 

"A kind Providence has directed all my steps since I have been 
driven from my home. The extreme illness of my wife's mother 
brought us unexpectedly to Carolina. It pleased God, within two weeks 
afterward, to remove to heaven my beloved friend and brother, the 
Rev. Dr. Thornwell, who was buried amidst the deep lamentations of 

His Course During the War. 279 

the countxy and of the Giurch. His vacant chair in the School of the 
Prophets was immediately tendered to me; which has, for two years, 
furnished me with work and with bread. During the past twelvemonth 
a vacancy having occurred in the pastorate of the G>lumbia Church, 
I was summoned by the voice of my old charge to resume the duties 
of the pulpit I have accordingly filled to the best of my ability, the 
double office of a professor and of a pastor : which I shall probably con- 
tinue to do, provisionally,, until the way is open for my return to you. 
It may not be amiss to state that earnest efforts have been made by 
my personal friends to induce me to settle again permanently in the 
land of my birth, rendered now doubly sacred to me as holding in its 
bosom my precious dead. It has been argued that, after the stupendous 
changes of the past two years New Orleans can never be to me what 
it once was, and it has been significantly suggested that possibly I 
may not hold the same place in your affections as formerly. Of course, 
as to these things I must remain, for some time, in profoundest ignor- 
ance. But my purpose is unalterably formed to decline every proposal 
from every quarter until I can once more meet with you. The ties 
which bind me to New Orleans are not only those of affection, but of 
honor. The present is the hour of trial to you, in which I am incapa- 
ble of anything that looks like desertion. You are entitled, upon every 
ground, to the refusal of my future labors. My desire and expectation 
is to return and gather up the fragments of our scattered congregation, 
and to share with them the poverty to which we will be reduced to- 
gether. If it pleases you, I have no wish but to enter with you upon 
a new career of glorious trial for our blessed Master: — ^and it must 
be from your lips I must learn, that God has any other destination 
for me than to build up our wasted Zion in the midst of yourselves. 
Until we can meet face to face, I shall continue to hold myself free 
from all entanglements — leaving the future entirely in the hands of God. 
**You have doubtless heard indirectly of the bereavement we have 
sustained in the death of our eldest daughter. Almost immediately 
upon leaving New Orleans, the symptoms of her fatal malady began to 
appear — exciting little apprehension at the first, but eventually pro- 
ducing alarm from the obstinacy with which they refused to yield to 
the most skilful medical treatment we could procure. At length after 
many fluctuations protracted through fourteen months, her delicate 
frame succumbed beneath the insidious destroyer and in July last we 
laid her precious form beneath the sod, where the quietly flowing waters 
of the beautiful Saluda chant a perpetual requiem over the dead who 
sleep in the peaceful cemetery of Elmwood. Ah I there are those among 
you who know with what an edge a sorrow like this cuts, down to 
the very quick. It is enough to say that she was very dear, and yet 
she was taken. 'Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!' 
We bow before that sovereign will, which we would not dispute, even 
if we could. She has gone up to be with the immortals ; and our faith 

28o Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

watched her in that splendid flight, till she stood before the throne. 
We have had no wish to call her back, and have since solaced ourselves 
with a memory which is as green to us as the Garden of Eden. It is 
not fit perhaps that I should pour forth in this sheet the private sorrows 
of a parent's heart: but when I have heard of like afflictions which 
have befallen you, I have held communion with my own grief, and then 
have wept for you. Ever and anon the tidings have reached me of 
the breaches death has made in some of your households. Here a 
beloved mother has been taken up to her rest in the Savior's bosom; 
there, a daughter and a sister has dropped out of the family circle; 
while the echoes of the distant battlefield bring to others the sad report 
of sons and brothers who sleep forever in the graves of the martyrs. 
Scarce a family amongst you, that does not .whisper its secret grief 
around the evening hearth; whilst I am denied the poor privilege of 
mingling my tears with yours, and of lifting the voice of prayer in 
those dismantled homes ! It has been a solace, however, in the solitude 
of my own sorrow to think of all these distant mourners, and to find 
my own soul knit to theirs in the grief that has been common to me 
and to them. 'May the God of all consolation fill us both with peace 
in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the 
Holy Ghost!' 

'It is time, however, to put aside these merely personal allusions. 
You have been called, beloved friends, to endure heavy and very pecul- 
iar trials. It is not prudent, perhaps, to indulge in anything but this 
most general reference to them. They are such, however, as do not 
fall once in a century upon any people, and generation may succeed 
generation before similar sufferings will be experienced again. There 
is undoubtedly a meaning of most solemn significance in all this, which 
we must strive to understand. At present, we may not be able fully 
to do so. Providence is always hard to be interpreted, when we are 
in the very current of events, drifting and whirling us along too rapidly 
for the comparison and thought which are necessary to scan the mys- 
terious cipher in which God writes his will upon the page of human 
history. But an interpretation there is: by and by, when we can look 
leisurely back upon these tangled and perplexed scenes, we shall better 
understand that it has been throughout a discipline of love, and not of 
wrath. At present, all we can hope to achieve is to have our hearts 
in proper temper, and with a chastened will to bow before the majesty 
of him who does his pleasure among the armies in heaven and the 
inhabitants of earth. This is the first great end of chastisement: when 
our spirits are humbled and submissive before him, then will come the 
unsealing of the vision. 'What we know not now, we shall know here- 
after.* I have a most profound conviction that God is specially vindi- 
cating his own supremacy, as the Ruler among the nations. This con- 
viction fills me with awe. God's footsteps are to be seen in all the grand 
march of history: but there are special epochs when he discloses his 

His Course During the War. 281 

terrible majesty and reveals the title which is written upon his vesture, 
'the King of kings and Lord of lords.* We have not yet come to the 
end of this wonderful drama — ^but the closing act is not far off which 
shall give the moral of the whole. We shall then understand what 
is now partially hidden from our eyes; and will perhaps says, 'true and 
righteous are thy ways, Lord God Almighty I* We have only to believe, 
and to Tvait. I find myself embarrassed from the necessity imposed 
upon me of writing obscurely and in parable. But surely, if justice 
and judgment be the habitation of God's throne, the souls of them that 
are slain will not cry unheard from under the altar. It is a hard trial 
of our faith and patience; but, brethren, it were better to die than to 
lose our confidence in that divine Father who leads us by dark and 
slippery paths indeed, but always to seats of honor and of bliss. For 
myself, I have never wavered for an instant, in the trust I have reposed 
in the God of our salvation. You have only to recall the testimonies 
which I have delivered to you of old, to know all that I would say to 
you now. 

"But in the midst of these distresses, how precious is the thought that 
this poor world is not our final home ! Its vexations and cares are only 
the methods by which God trains us for the world of light and love 
on high. Our school days will soon be over, and we shall escape 
forever from all this hard, but necessary, discipline. When we stand 
upon those heavenly heights, we will look back with wonder that we 
made so much of the sorrow that endureth only for a night. We shall 
see so much of a Father's love in those very pains which once distressed 
us, that they will become materials of our song. This shall be our 
compensation — ^that for every pang felt on earth, we shall have a new 
pulse added to our joy. Can we not afford to bear all that sorrow 
which God so sanctifies and sweetens even here on earth, when we 
think that it accumulates a store of enjoyment for us in heaven? 
Oh, the depths of the mystery of grace! which can thus transform our 
sorrow into joy, and convert our very sobs into hallelujahs of praise! 
When I think of this, I reverse all my judgments and exclaim, Blessed 
are they that suffer! Blessed will be they who come out of great 
tribulation! God's own hand will wipe away all their tears, and they 
will dwell so joyfully in the sunlight of their Father's smile. 'Where- 
fore, comfort ye one another with these words.' 

"But I must hasten to a close. It would be easy to fill this page 
with individual names to whom I desire to convey my love. They are 
easily recalled, but it is more prudent to suppress the record. Let 
each individual whose eye may fall upon these sheets regard them as 
sent particularly to him and to her. The day, I hope, is not far distant 
when we may speak face to face. Till then we must learn to 'possess 
our souls in patience.' Surely after this long and gloomy separation, 
the Gospel will be both preached and heard as it never was before. 
I pray God, if I am permitted to return, I may 'come to you in the ful- 

282 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

ness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ' And now, beloved breth- 
ren, *to Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you 
faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, — to the 
only wise God our Savior,* I commend you: 'praying night and day 
exceedingly, that I might see your face and might perfect that which 
is lacking in your faith, and that God himself and our Father and the 
Lord Jesus Christ may direct my way unto you!' 

"Ever truly yours in the Gospel of Jesus, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

A characteristic letter df this period is the following to Miss 
Anna Jennings, granddaughter of Mr. Alfred Hennen, who 
was a distinguished member of the Louisiana Bar and a vefy 
valued member of the session of Dr. Palmer's church in New 
Orleans : 

"Columbia, S. C, July 28, 1864. 

"My Dear 'Daughter' Anna: Have I forfeited my right to address 
you thus by cold neglect? I must remit you for the explanation of all 
this to the letter I have just written to your mother, so as not to oc- 
cupy this sheet with a twice-told tale : and now let me kiss those pout- 
ing lips, and be forgiven. When, in my first letter, I ventured upon 
this endearing title, it was not exactly by accident, though the word 
did leap from my pen without premeditation. Still less was it a trick 
of rhetoric to catch your ear and thus inveigle you into my confidence. 
It was, I suspect, simply the inspiration of affectionate sympathy for a 
dear girl, whose young heart was waking up to the sense of being fath- 
erless. But however it may have been prompted, the adoption has been 
ratified by your acceptance of it: and from this time henceforth you 
are to be evermore my daughter. Shall I tell you, dearest Anna, how 
one sentence in your letter thrilled through every fiber of my heart, 
and made even the marrow of my bones to quiver? It was your tender 
allusion to my dead Fanny, coupled with a request to be allowed to 
take her place in my love. Can I then so easily replace my lost one? 
Now that she has gone up, beyond my reach, above the stars, can I 
turn those warm affections upon another? It was a very serious ques- 
tion, in answering which the least hypocrisy on my part would be infi- 
delity to you and treason against her, I have weighed it well; and 
I now tell you, my child, to come into my heart and hold a daughter's 
place. May the God of heaven bless you, and make the thought a sol- 
ace to you, as it is a comfort to me! 

"The metaphysics of this, I suppose, you do not understand: I am 
not sure that I comprehend it fully myself. I submit, however, the fol- 
lowing exposition, for what it is worth. All our earthly relations are 
sublimed through death. Our loved ones, when they have passed into 
heaven, sustain a twofold existence to us. In the kingdom of God 
they appear to us only as 'the angels of God,* redeemed and glorified 

His Course During the War. 283 

spirits bending with their crowns before the throne, and far removed 
out of the circle of the relations which they filled on earth. But they 
sustain another aspect to us, as memory recalls them in their earthly 
forms and in their human sympathies. This remembrance, however, 
is purified through death. The old adage, 'nil de ntortuis nisi bonumf 
embodies this idea. Memory presents only the image reflected from 
the mirror which affection holds up. All that was cheap and common 
in their character and life is sifted through and drops out of sight; or, 
to pursue the figure of the image, the glass which reflects it has the 
peculiar property of absorbing those rays which would discolor, and re- 
turns only such as beautify and adorn. Our remembrance is thus a 
purged and sanctified remembrance — ^the dead reappear to our thought 
in their earthly dress, but that dress transformed into a robe of light, 
and their whole persons gloriously transfigured before our eyes. This 
beautiful image takes up its abode in our hearts, a most sacred and 
awful 'Presence,' I have said to your mother ; and the affections, which 
cluster around it, are purer, holier affections than the living ever enjoy. 
It is love which has undergone a consecration — mingling with rever- 
ence, it prostrates itself with a sublime and almost devotional delight 
before the Memory that is now revealed as the sacred shadow, the um- 
bra, of the one that was. You see then, my child, in what sense you 
can take h^r place in my heart. She, the Memory — the sweet and 
radiant Tiesence' — must evermore be there, to be cherished with a 
love spiritual and unearthly — ^and my chastened heart must ever em- 
brace the thought of her with a strange complex emotion of mingled 
reverence and affection. But side by side with this spiritualized love, 
which we give only to the blessed dead, there is room for other loves 
which are more simply human — and this is the portion for the living. 
Yes, Anna, with this love I cherish you: and if you will be satisfied 
with it, I say again, come into my heart, and be my daughter until death. 
I will put a father's blessing upon your head and shield you with a 
father's care. 

"As the first proof of this, let me ask how you are speeding in your 
Christian course ? Has the blessed hope of acceptance with God ripened 
into a firm and stable conviction? Does it bring forth the fruits of 
humility and patience, of faithful obedience to his holy commands, and 
of joyous communion with your Divine Father through the mediation 
of his blessed Son ? Recognize, in the outstart of your Christian career, 
the necessity of earnestness in serving God. Half ^ the conflicts, and 
nearly all the spiritual darkness of which most Christians complain, 
are invited by their sluggishness and indecision. No wonder they are 
assaulted, so long as they waver upon the border line which separates 
the two warring kingdoms. Throw then your whole soul into the Chris- 
tian life — mind, heart, will, memory, reason, judgment, fancy, con- 
science—draw them all up in gallant array and marshal them in .solid 
phalanx. Let the grace of God rule in your heart — pervading your 

284 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

entire life — ^breathing in your conviction — molding your thoughts — 
and controlling your actions : and so let your piety diffuse its aroma 
all about you, as the smallest particle of musk will perfume a chamber 
through a century. Thus you will find your conflicts easy, and your 
burdens light till you are called Home. 

"I must not omit to thank you, my sweet girl, for the draft of your 
father's will appended to your mother's last letter. It is the most 
remarkable document I ever read and if published, would be considered 
by legal men thoroughly unique. It was an exact copy of your noble 
father himself — just as you have seen in the camera an extended land- 
scape exactly reproduced upon a piece of paper of the breadth of your 
hand, so the broad surface of that great and noble heart is daguerreo- 
typed here. All the simplicity of his character — ^his affectionate trust- 
fulness — ^his strong, direct mind penetrating through perplexities to 
a single goal — and more than all, his big, generous and cultivated love : 
every feature that marked the man, is here. We see all of the husband, 
father, brother, master and friend, at a single view. I do not wonder 
that you treasure it as a most precious relic; and that your mother 
especially should bind to her heart this last, full testimony of his ap- 
preciation of herself, so well justified by his intimate knowledge of her 
queenly worth. 

"I have only space left to say what great pleasure I have derived from 
a recent visit of Mr. Smedley ; who gave me so many details about you 
all that could never be written even by the most unflagging correspon- 
dent. The rich story of your grandfather, grand in the calmness of 
a serene old age, baffling the miserable Yankee by asking for the second 
volume of Kingslake*s 'Crimean War,' afforded me the only generous 
laugh I have had for two years. It was so characteristic; and were I 
an artist I would surely sketch the scene ;" the beautiful summer eve — 
the open verandah — the serene old man, with his venerable locks and 
benign countenance — the rough, boorish invading soldiers, with thick 
boots and clanking spurs — ^the excited and angry females of the house 
— and then the vacant stare of that insulting clown at the question, 
*Can you tell me, sir, if the second volume of Kingslake's "Crimean 
War" is issued from the press?" Oh, it was a scene for the pencil of 
a Hogarth! this piece of rainbow spanning a war cloud! and with a 
sting of sarcasm in it that makes it an illustrative national picture. 
Dear, brave old man ! May God spare his life, till I can grasp his hand, 
and thank him for his sturdy virtue! 

"Mr. Alfred Hennen was a great student and reader. While in iso- 
lation, on his plantation, during the war, he had been deprived of the 
privilege of seeing new books. At the time of the incident here referred 
to the Yankees were devastating his property. But, as the Colonel 
of the regiment advanced toward him he asked him if "the second 
volume of Kingslake's 'Crimean War* had been published," uncon- 
sciously covering the officer with astonishment and confusion. 

His Course During the War. 285 

"My girls have not been well of late, Mary especially. They have 
all left me in search of a bracing climate while I tread my mill at home. 
Good-bye and write soon a forgiving and loving letter. A separate 
kiss to Alice, Caddy, Cora, and Edith. 

"Your father-pastor, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

The following to another of his parishioners is given in 
part because it portrays the affliction so prevalent amongst 
them and amongst all the people of the South in that time of 
fearful conflict: 

'Columbia, S. C, December 22, 1864. 

'My Dear Mrs. R. : I have just heard with inexpressible pain of the 
death of your dear husband, under circumstances too, of such barbarity, 
as must greatly aggravate your distress. Having an opportunity to 

communicate with you through Mrs. I cannot forbear to turn 

aside and mingle my tears with yours and if I cannot console I may 
at least enjoy the privilege of participating in your grief. Would to 
God that I were permitted to sit at your side as in former days when 
the hand of God was heavy upon you and of drawing consolation to- 
gether from the sacred Scriptures. But it is idle to indulge in wishes 
that are so unprofitable; and I must restrict myself to this little sheet 
only large enough to convey the expression of my warmest sympathy, 
and too small to contain much that I would utter with a living voice. 

"My heart bleeds as I think of your mourning circle. Two sisters 
bowed together under the sorrow of recent widowhood; each unable 
to sustain the other because her heart is crushed beneath her own 
burden while a venerable mother is paralyzed by these successive blows 
and mourns at once over the loss of four sons. It is a sight to move 
the heart of the sternest stoic and stirs my heart to its lowest depths. 
Death is awful when it comes but once over our threshold and the 
chasm seems dreadful enough when only one beloved form is snatched 
from our embrace: what must it be when four are taken, and two 
households are left without husband or brother? It is a scene of pro- 
founder sorrow than that which moved our Savior when he wept with 
the two sisters at Bethany, and can you doubt that he looks down with 
less compassion upon you? Oh! My afflicted friend, turn your eyes to 
that Jesus, and you will see that he kindly sympathizes in the grief 
which, for reasons inscrutable to us, he has been pleased to send upon 
you. I can do nothing more than to point you to Him who 'hath 
borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,* and assure you that our 
Redeemer is as compassionate in heaven as when upon earth he wepi 
at the tomb of Lazarus. May he help you with his sufficient grace 
in this hour more dark and bitter than any other through which you 
have yet passed. Weep if you will — if you can ; for there are some sor- 
rows that are too deep for tears. They drink up the soul and there 

286 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

is no sign which can represent an unutterable woe. Hence I say, weep, 
if you can. Let the full tide of your grief flow out through the channel 
of tears. God doth not forbid it Only do not murmur — ^justify God 
in all his ways, like Job; who, you remember in his successive and 
accumulative bereavements would not 'charge God foolishly* but piously 
exclaimed 'though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.' Seasons of 
affliction are often seasons of sore temptations, when the Adversary 
would take advantage of our bruised affections to reproach the God 
of heaven. Our human hearts, writhing in their anguish, are prone 
>^o break out in the impatient question, Why has He done this? Re- 
member the Scripture which says 'What thou knowest not now thou 
shalt know hereafter.' Be patient until the Revelation of the day of 
Christ He shall make these dark dispensations plain to us. We shall 
then know; at present we can only believe, but in both let us glorify 
him, who will not lay upon man more than his right that we should 
enter into judgment with him. 

"You perceive, my dear Mrs. R., that I do not attempt to comfort 
you. The time for that is not come. If I should offer you consolation, 
it would be like water thrown on heated iron sputtering off and hissing 
in angry drops. I only weep for you. 

"Your greatest comfort now is to be allowed to mourn, and what 

you need from your friends is only sympathy which means that they 

suffer with you. We will then sit down with you in the ashes and 

cover our heads with the mantle and keep silent When your heart 

craves for more than this, write me where you are to be found and 

I will fill a large sheet with what you will then be inclined to read. 

Just now, I can only press your hand in silent sympathy and lift my 

voice to our Father in heaven to sustain you in this heavy sorrow, and 

give your sister and yourself and your dear mother strength to bear all 

that he inflicts. To God and to the Spirit of his grace I commend you 

all, praying fervently on your behalf to him who has promised to give 

the oil of joy for mourning, beauty for ashes, and the garment of praise 

for the spirit of heaviness.* 

"Affectionately your pastor and friend, 

"B. M. Palmer." 
» • 

The whole land had long been a house of mourning; and 
people were looking to him from every side to minister unto 
them the consolation of the Gk)spel. Feeling often the need of 
comfort himself, he had frequent occasion for the exercise 
of his wonderful power of self-control in the face of sorrow 
as bitter as death. 

He was singularly tried one February Sabbath, 1865. Just 
as he was about to enter the pulpit to preach, some one handed 
him a telegram which announced the death of a prominent 
young connection of his. The gentleman had been slain in bat- 

His Course During the War, 287 

tie the day before, February 10. He was husband to a favorite 
niece of Dr. Palmer. When the Doctor looked down from the 
pulpit to a seat nearby, his eyes met the wistful brown eyes 
of the young wife, who would for an hour listen to what he as 
God's minister would say, and thenceforth mourn the husband 
of her youth. Preaching was very hard for him that day in the 
presence of that young widow unconscious of the blow that 
had fallen upon her. 

A week later Columbia was evacuated, and he in flight. 
A little later the dty was in ashes, and with it all his "private 
papers, books, and household effects." 

Not far from the middle of March three men started from 
Yorkville, S. C, tramping in the direction of Columbia. They 
were Mr. Asher D. Cohen, now of Charleston, S. C, Mr. 
Jas. Wood Davidson, now of Washington, D. C, and Dr. 
B. M. Palmer. They had simply fallen in together and for a 
time traveled together. Mr. Cohen tells the story substantially 
as follows: 

Dr. Palmer had some cornbread on which to subsist and I 
had some fine time-cured Madeira wine. We followed the line 
of the torn-up railway. Having found an old hand-car we 
tried to work it and thus increase our rate of travel, but soon 
gave it up as we lacked the muscle to make that mode of travel 
a success. The first night we slept on the railway track, mak- 
ing a pillow of one of the rails. The next day we continued 
our travel, subsisting on the Doctor's cornbread and a little 
wine. The second night we slept in the same way. The next 
day we again resumed our journey. Mr. Davidson, I think, 
left us at Chester. As the night of the third day approached, 
it began to rain, and I proposed that we should shelter in the 
piazza of a poor farmhouse. Kilpatrick's men had gone 
through the neighborhood and our own men also. The peo- 
ple had been well scared. The little home was modest and 
in poor condition. The little piazza looked out north. It 
required no little persuasion to get Dr. Palmer to enter the 
piazza. As I peeped through a crevice in the door to the house, 
I saw a square room with a staircase on the southern side, 
leading to the floor above. On the eastern side, in the center, 
was a large hearth and an old-fashioned fireplace, with a good 
fire burning in it. I saw an old lady, a countrywoman, in this 
room. It was getting very disagreeable in the piazza. I 
knocked and tried to get a response from within. Failing in 

288 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

this, I urged the Doctor that we should enter the room and 
sit by the fire. He finally consented. As we entered the room, 
the old lady retreated up the stairs until she reached the top, 
where she sat down. We deposited our traps, each taking a 
seat on either side of the fire. It was very evident that the old 
lady was alarmed. She had suffered much from passers-by 
shortly before, as we afterwards learned. Our conversation 
was naturally serious and not of a character to disturb her. 
We understood the situation well, that is to say, that she looked 
upon us as suspicious characters. We probably suited our re- 
marks to removing her fears, and letting her know the nature 
of her visitors. The conversation told. Step by step, with in- 
creasing confidence, she descended the stairs. The Doctor 
kept his eyes on her and she hers on him. At last she was on 
the same floor with us. The Doctor dropped on his knees and 
said, "Let us join in evening prayers." I knelt and the old lady 
fell upon her knees ; and then the Doctor, inspired by the situ- 
ation, offered up a most touching and appropriate prayer, in 
which he dwelt upon the misfortunes of the war and the trials 
of the women who were left at home, and their privations. 
It is needless to say that we were all bathed with tears. It 
was the most appropriate and eloquent prayer that I ever lis- 
tened to. The Doctor himself had been touched by the situa- 
tion ; and from the depths of his heart he had endeavored to 
bring comfort to this poor woman. Her sons were away, in 
the army. With the rain outside, and the solemn quiet inside, 
with the tenderness and eloquence of the Doctor, it was a re- 
markable occasion ; and was impressed indelibly upon my mem- 

The old lady's fears were dissipated ; her heart was softened 
into kindness. She gave us a comfortable bed to sleep in, and 
something to eat that was superb in comparison with what we 
had. She found a stray chicken for our morning^s breakfast. 
We left her with a parting blessing. She sent us on our way 
with good wishes. We continued our journey down the track 
toward Columbia till we reached Winnsboro, where the Doctor 
stopped over Sunday to preach. When we parted he said, 
"God bless you and good-bye, Mr. Cohen." 

When Dr. Palmer, at the earnest solicitation of friends, 
fled from Columbia, he left his family occupying a house on 
Laurel Street, opposite the Lecture Room of the First Presby- 
terian Church, and having with them Mr. Isaac Hutson, a 

His Course During the War. 289 

brother-in-law, and his family. On returning to the city, he 
learned that, after several days of previous shelling the town, 
the Yankees had entered it Friday, February 17, 1865; that 
marauding parties and drunken soldiers were soon scattered 
over the entire city ; that Mrs. Palmer requested and soon ob- 
tained a guard for her home who endeavored to protect the 
family from insults and spoliation ; that at 6 o'clock in the 
evening a rocket was sent up, which proved the signal for 
firing the city ; that fire soon started in all directions and that 
a great portion of the inhabitants, homeless and without pro- 
tection, were wandering about the streets, exposed to all the 
unspeakable dangers of the terrible situation. He learned that, 
at 2 o'clock that night, the family were told to leave their 
dwelling, as a government factory nearby was to be blown up ; 
that they went into the streets, each one carrying along bun- 
dles of clothing, bedding, valuables, anything that might be 
of use ; that they made their way among burning buildings and 
trees to the house of Dr. Howe, on Blanding street; that in 
the meantime Mrs. Palmer had been deprived of a box of fam- 
ily silver, which was forcibly snatched from her grasp by a 
soldier ; that Dr. Howe's house, having been several times fired, 
they left it and spent the remainder of the night in the streets, 
huddled together around a few bundles which they had been 
able to retain ; that in the morning they returned to Dr. Howe's 
and had remained there ; that, though the night of terrors was 
past, they did not undress to go to bed for five nights. He 
learned that, when the army left on Monday, they carried with 
them all the provisions that had not been destroyed by them ; 
that the people were almost entirely without food. He learned 
that since the Yankees had left rations had been issued from 
the common stock which was gotten by putting together the 
supplies that the few fortunate members of the community 
were able to save ; that Mr. Hutson, his invalid brother-in-law, 
had gone every day to the depot to obtain the scanty allowance 
doled out, so much for each member of the family. ^* 

Dr. Palmer, finding the condition of things so urgent, went 
with wagons into the country to obtain provisions for the 
starving ones. He again resumed his spiritual ministrations 

"Dr. John W. Caldwell, of New Orleans, has furnished us this 
account of those last days in Columbia. 


290 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

also to the devastated church in Columbia ; and continued there 
till the close of the war. 

During these years, in addition to the services recounted 
already in this chapter, he had served his church as chairman 
of the committee to revise the hymn-book and as one of the 
most important members of the committee to revise the Book 
of Church Order. 




New Orleans, and the First Presbyterian Church at the Close 
OF the War.— The First Sunday in His Pulpit after His Re- 
turn TO New Orleans.— His Efforts to Rebuild His People: — 
By Preaching. — By Pastoral Work. — By Puttinc? the People 
TO Work. — Sketch of the Work, 1869- 1870, and Later.— Temper 
toward Other Churches of the same Communion in New Or- 
leans. — Parochial Schools, the Sylvester Larned Institute. — 
Dr. Palmer's Labors in. — His Aid in the Re-adjustment of the 
Church at Large to Its' New Environment in 1865 and After- 
wards. — His Overtures to the Associate Reformed Synod of the 
South, and to the Cumberland Presbyterians in the Assembly 
OF 1866. — His Services Against Fusion in the Assembly of 187a 
— Special Preparation for this Service, Through Studies of 
Defections of the Church, North, Contributed to the South- 
western Presbyterian of the Summer before. — Other Contri- 
butions TO the Southwestern Presbyterian. 

WHEN the Civil War broke out, New Orleans was one of 
the greatest ports in the world, and "to all appearance the 
most prosperous commercial city in America." The year be- 
fore the war began, the total commerce of the city amounted 
to $473,290,000. It was the most profitable sort of commerce, 
too. Consequently, the average wealth of the citizen had be- 
come very high. Her merchants, bankers and capitalists were 
men of great enterprise. Other enterprising cities were not 
ashamed, therefore, to borrow ideas from New Orleans. 
Causes were, indeed, at work, such as the choking of the 
mouths of the Mississippi with sand, the operation of the Erie 
Canal, and the building and successful operation of trans- 
montane railways, which would have tended to diminish her 
trade and her prosperity in the course of time; but the war, 
within the limits of four short years, reduced this prosperous 
city to ruins, almost annihilated her commerce, occasioned the 
turning of a considerable part of her trade to other cities, de- 
stroyed no small part of it, so that it was necessary to rebuild 
from the very foundations. Nor were the circumstances under 

292 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

which the rebuilding must be done such as to make the under- 
taking easy. 

After the capture of the city the suspension of commerce 
and all industries caused a great increase in the number of the 
poor in New Orleans. These conditions were made worse by 
the considerable number of negroes who had fled thither to 
seek safety within the Union lines. In order to feed these 
bodies of poor, the arbitrary and tyrannical rulers levied assess- 
ments on banks, business firms or individuals who had given 
assistance to the Confederate cause. As time passed the Union 
men in the city became more and more powerful. Carpet- 
baggers exercised rule. Even after 1868, when Louisiana be- 
came a part of the Union, her troubles the rather increased. 
Misrule, debt and corruption characterized the time. At 
length, in 1874, the White League overthrew in a pitched 
battle the Metropolitan police, in the employ of the Radical 
party, and the colored militia, numbering three thousand men, 
and cleared the way for the introduction of a wiser govern- 
ment. The beginning of the Eads jetties about the same time 
gave new hope and life to the city. When the war closed, in 
1865, New Orleans did not present, therefore, such attractions 
as she had presented in 1856. 

If the city had diminished in absolute and relative im- 
portance, the First Presbyterian Church had also dwindled in 
numbers, resources and influence. The church had availed 
itself of the ministrations of such supplies as it could command 
under the circumstances. But it came out of the war period 
with about one hundred and fifty fewer members than were 
on its rolls in i860, and these weakened vastly in fortune and 

Back in South Carolina, Dr. Palmer could conjecture, in the 
spring of 1865, very accurately the conditions in New Orleans, 
and her worse conditions to follow, yet he yearned for his 
people and the remnant of his flock. Accordingly, he appeared 
in his pulpit as soon as the opening of the way permitted. An 
editorial note in the New Orleans Times, Monday, July 17, 
1865, permits the reader to see him on that first appearance 
after the war, as he was seen by at least one of his hearers : 

"Yesterday was quiet and pleasant — a Sabbath of the soul! During 
the forenoon there was a fine breeze abroad, and a screen of clouds, 
spread over the face of the sky, tempered the heat, which might other- 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 293 

attended, particularly the First Presbyterian Church, where Dr. B. M. 
wise have been oppressive. The churches, we noticed, were very largely 
Palmer, so famous for his eloquence in other days, held forth as one 
who had returned from his wanderings to become again a teacher 
and a guide. It was soon apparent that during his absence the Doctor 
had lost none of those powers which gave such a charm to his pulpit 
oratory. He seemed, however, to be more chastened and subdued than 
he ever was before. With an humbler hope he looked up to the bow 
of promise which spanned the sky, and with gentler persuasion he called 
for a renewal of the covenant of grace. Ht feelingly alluded to the long 
years of suffering, now so happily closed, and expressed a hope that 
his own trials and sad experiences would be so far sanctified as to At 
him better than ever before for the responsible duties of a Gospel min- 
ister. He then told, how in the general affliction, the angel of death 
had visited his household, and, as he alluded to the sad theme, all 
hearts were melted and the waters gushed forth from the smitten rock. 
As for the dead past, he, for one, was anxious to hide it away in the sol- 
emn tomb. Henceforth, no word should escape his lips but such as 
was meet for an humble servant in the temple of his God and King. 
Wherever called to minister in the land of his birth and of his love, 
he would emulate the example of Paul the Apostle, by preaching 
Christ and Him crucified ; and his song should be the song of the angels 
— 'Peace on earth, and good will toward men.* 

"In the afternoon there was a shower, and at night again all was calm 
and still." 

The responsibilities upon him were now vast. It was his to 
rebuild his own congregation and membership; and it was 
bis to lead his people, diminished as they were, to give heroic 
assistance to the weaker bodies of the same communion 
throughout the city, the State, and the Southwest. Right nobly 
did he acquit himself of these heavy responsibilities — by his 
preaching and example, by his pastoral work, and by the or- 
ganization and stimulation of the rank and file of his people 
to endeavor on their own part. 

His preaching was continued with his old time intellectual 
vigor, earnestness, eloquence and grace of delivery. It seems 
to have been characterized by an increased sense of his depend- 
ence on the God whose grace is infinite albeit His ways are 
past finding out. His range of topics was not materially dif- 
ferent from that of the first period in New Orleans. He still 
gave large attention to the Scriptural doctrines of sin, of man's 
responsibility for sin coupled with his inability to save him- 
self from it, of salvation by grace through Christ Jesus, of 
the law as a rule of life, and of the Christian's future. The 

294 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

various phases of these great doctrines were presented Sabbath 
after Sabbath, sometimes in a simple didactic way, and some- 
times in an indirect way by polemic attempts against current 
infidelity concerning any of these Scriptural teachings. As 
instances of this polemic preaching, an able series of sermons 
in 1866 on objections to prayer may be referred to. As in- 
stances of the simple didactic exposition of Scripture teaching, 
reference may be made to his series of sermons, delivered on 
Sabbath nights, 1867, on the Beatitudes, or to the shorter series 
on various aspects of conscience, preached on certain Sabbath 
mornings about the same time, or to the series of six sermons 
on the Parable of the Sower, preached in the year 1874, or to 
a larger series on the subject of Prayer, preached on Sabbath 
evenings in 1869- 1870. He was, as has appeared before, given 
to preaching series of sermons. He liked to bring out a theme 
fully and symmetrically. 

In introducing his later series of discourses of Prayer, he 
told his people that the theme had never been discussed except 
by homilies and recommendations of the duty of praise and 
supplication to thj? Supreme Being; that no extant treatise 
grappled with the various difficulties which either a weak faith 
or an arrogant skepticism had thrown around the relations 
subsisting between the immutable God and the intelligent yet 
helpless creature man ; and that after much reflection and study 
he had determined, in view of the lack of a complete investi- 
gation of the subject of prayer, to prepare and deliver a series 
of Sabbath evening discourses, that he might leave them some 
tokens of remembrance when his head should rest on the bosom 
of the Father. 

In addition to the series of many, or several, sermons each, 
he would very frequently, in treating a great Scriptural theme, 
devote both morning and evening services to its consideration. 

He confined himself rigidly to preaching the Gospel. He 
understood well how to bring forth its teachings in season. 
His sermons often show the happiest adaptation to the special 
circumstances of the people at the time of their delivery. For 
example, in the late summer and autumn of 1867, when the 
yellow fever was raging in the city, he is found preaching on 
such texts as Psalm 23: 4: "Though I walk through the 
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou 
art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me;" Mark 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 295 

6: 50: "It is I, be not afraid;" i Oironicles 21: 13: "Let 
me fall into the hands of the Lord, for great are his mercies." 
The following story, told by Miss Mary Caldwell, of Qiarles- 
ton, S. C, may be taken as showing fairly the d^^ee of in- 
fluence exerted by Dr. Palmer, at this time, over an audience: 

In the fall of 1866, he went to New York to perform the marriage 
ceremony for a former beloved parishioner and spiritual child, Miss 
Anna Jennings. The Sunday after reaching New York, he, together 
with his traveling companion, went over to Brooklyn to hear 
Dr. Scott, who had been his predecessor in the First Presbyterian 
Church in New Orleans. Dr. Scott recognized Dr. Palmer immediately 
on his entering the church; he betrayed surprise and something akin 
to chagrin at seeing him there. Turning his eyes from the pew in' 
which Dr. Palmer sat, he was careful not to look that way any more. 
Nor did he greet Dr. Palmer after the sermon. In a day or two, Dr. 
Scott wrote him a note saying that he would have been glad to have him 
in his pulpit but had been prevented by the sense he had of his people's 
impatience with him for his course during the war. The next Sunday 
they went to Dr. Van Dyke's church. Dr. Van Dyke had arranged 
for Dr. Palmer to preach for him. He was absent himself. Dr. Palmer 
began without an introduction. He preached on the Comforter, "I will 
send you another Comforter," etc. He began in his apparently simple 
way with sentences, short, clear and crisp. The people were electrified 
and held as under a spell. That evening the house was crowded. Peo- 
ple had gone home from the morning service talking of the modest- 
looking little gentleman with such command of the teachings of Scrip- 
ture and such wonderful eloquence in setting the truth forth, whose 
name nevertheless they could not tell. The sermon in the evening was 
of equal eloquence. An old veteran of the Northern army inquired who 
the wonderful preacher was. He finally learned that he was the Rev. 
B. M. Palmer, of New Orleans, La. "The arch rebel of that name!" 
he exclaimed. "He preaches like an archangel !" 

At this time friends in New York begged Dr. Palmer to 
establish in that city a Church of the Strangers. Dr. Stuart 
Robinson plead with him to go. But he said, "Robinson, why 
don't you go and do that work?" He would preach to his 
own people in New Orleans. 

In 1868, on a visit to South Carolina, he preached twice in 
the city of Charleston. The following excerpt from The News 
and Courier shows how his preaching was regarded there : 

"The presence of this distinguished divine has created a pleasant 
excitement in the religious community. He preached twice yesterday — 
in the morning at the Central Presbyterian Church (Dr. Dana's), and 

296 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

in the evening at Glebe Street Church (Dr. Girardeau's). He was as- 
sisted morning and evening by his venerable father, Rev. Edward 
Palmer, and on each occasion there was an immense congregation pres- 
ent. All classes of the community, natives and foreigners, Northerners 
and Southerners, Jews and Gentiles, whites and blacks crowded to hear 
his far-famed eloquence. In the morning he preached from the text : 
'Father, I will,' being the first three words of the twenty-fourth verse 
of the seventeenth chapter of Saint John. Words fail to describe his 
eloquence, but its effect upon the audience may be judged from the fact 
that he compelled their undivided and eager attention for one hour and 
twenty minutes. 

"lA the evening he preached from Matthew 27 : 22 : 'What shall I do 
then with Jesus, who is called Christ ?* Readers familiar with the New 
Testament will recollect that this is the question asked of the Jews 
by Pontius Pilate when they demanded of him the release of Barabbas. 
Dr. Palmer used it as the suggestion of a discourse respecting the su- 
perior claims of the Christian religion on account of the historic char- 
acter of Christ. . . The same close attention was paid to the discourse 
as in the morning. Dr. Palmer is, probably, the ablest pulpit orator 
in the Southern States, and can have but few if any superiors in the 

Mr. Alfred Lanneau, also of Charleston, S. C, writing of 
the latter of these sermons, says : 

"He passed rapidly in review the various systems of religion which 
claimed to rival Christianity. His eloquence was fragrant with the in- 
cense of praise to Christ, as he showed the utter failure of them all. 
Then at the close he suddenly asked, *But do you retort upon me the 
question, *What shall you do with this Jesus who is called the Christ?' 
Why! I just take him into my heart of hearts; and when weary of sin, 
temptation and sorrow, to Him who when he was on earth said, *Come 
unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you 
rest* — ^to Him I would go and laying my head upon his bosom look 
up with all the love and confidence of a child. The climax was perfect 
and the effect was intense.'' 

In 1870 the Synod of Mississippi met in JackscMi. Dr. 
Palmer attended. He was appointed, perhaps at his own re- 
quest, to preach on Sabbath, to the Convicts in the State prison. 
It happened that as the congregation assembled, Dr. T. J. 
Mitchell, then prison physician, was passing through the chapel 
on his way to the dispensary. He stopped to ask Judge 
Thomas J. Wharton, who had accompanied the preacher for 
the day to the place, "Why they sent such a piney woods 
specimen of a preacher to preach to the convicts." The Judge, 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 297 

who was Dr. Palmer's host, answered only with a smile. The 
rest of the story is better told in the words of another : "The 
hymn was sung, and the preacher opened the Sacred Word 
and read — ^as he only can read — ^a chapter appropriate to the 
occasion. The Doctor listened, and, forgetting the dispensary, 
remained through the sermon. Then approaching Judge 
Wharton, he said, 'Judge, there is only one minister that can 
read and preach after that fashion. I am prepared to be intro- 
duced to Dr. Palmer.' " * 

If his work as a preacher was with such flattering accept- 
ance, his work as a pastor was not less faithful and eflicient. 
Ever too busy to do much social visiting, he never had too 
much work of other sorts to prevent genuine, tactful, pastoral 
visits to those supposed to be ready to receive such visits with 
profit. In times of sickness he was always attentive. In times 
of pestilence he was faithful to the point of heroism. The 
pestilence of yellow fever is a terrible pestilence. 

"Yellow fever is not a terrible disease only because of its fatality. 
In instances of death from most other causes, the victim in the cold em- 
brace of death is kept as long as possible from the coffin and the grave. 
The friend or relative still loves to gaze with the eyes of affection 
upon the form, though rigid in death, and on 'the languor of the placid 
cheek,' though the light of the face be quenched forever ; and 'mark the 
mild, angelic air, the rapture of the repose that's there.' 

"Though all hope is lost, yet the fond heart dreads seeing the form 
taken from the place that is to know it no more. 

"With the victim from yellow fever the case, however, is different. 
As soon as it is decent to do so, the poor unfortunate who has been 
taken off by the scourge is made ready for interment. There is some- 
thing so repulsive in the nature of the pestilence itself that even affec- 
tion does not wish to detain the body from an immediate burial. Even 
the little infant, that 

" 'lovliness in death, 
that parts not quite with parting breath,' 

when the victim of any other disease, is hurried to the tomb, if stricken 
down with the horrid pestilence of yellow fever. Thus it is that this 
disease is terrible apart from its fatality." * 

Whether the above is a scientifically accurate estimate of 

*L, P., in Magnolia Gazette, quoted in Southwestern Presbyterian, 
July 26, 1900. 

•From Daily Picayune, October 6, 1867 (an editorial note). 


298 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

yellow fever is a question that may be ignored in the study 
of Dr. Palmer's life. It expresses the current view of the 
plague and the dread of it. Notwithstanding this view, Dr. 
Palmer did the work of a pastor faithfully and persistently, 
in the face of all the repulsiveness and all the danger. 

In the following paragraphs may be seen an account from his 
own pen of a face to face talk in the chamber of pestilence: 

"During the epidemic of 1867, a pastor in the city of New Orleans 
was just leaving his study to attend the funeral of one who had fallen 
a victim to the pestilence. A crumpled note was placed in his hand 
requesting him to repair immediately to the couch of a dying stranger. 
Promising to obey the summons as soon as released from the service 
then present, within an hour he turned sadly away from the cemetery, 
where the solemn words, *dust to dust,' had just been pronounced, to 
look again upon Death, struggling with his prey, in a retired chamber. 

"A single glance revealed the form of an athletic young man, with 
a broad and noble brow, upon which the seal of the grave was visibly 
set. Sitting upon the edge of the bed, and taking the sufferer's hand 
kindly in his own, the preacher said, *.Mr. M., do you know how ill 
you are?* 

" 'Yes,' was the quick response ; *I shall soon pass the bourne whence 
no traveller returns.' 

'Are you, then, prepared to die?' 

'Alas! no, sir,' fell upon the ear like the knell of a lost soul. 
'Will you, then, let me pray for you?' and with the assent given, 
the knee was bowed before Him who alone has power to save. In two 
or three terse sentences, uttered with a tremulous emotion, the case of 
the dying sinner was laid at the mercy-seat. 

**The moments were shortening fast; very soon the last sand would 
disappear from the hour-glass. The conversation was promptly re- 
sumed, as follows : 

" *Mr. M., I am told you are the son of pious parents, and have been 
reared in the bosom of the Church; you do not need, therefore, that 
I should explain to you the way of salvation — for which, indeed, there 
is now no time. But you know that the Bible says, "God so loved the 
world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in 
him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Only believe now 
in this Savior, and you are saved.' 

" 'Oh, sir,' was the reply, 'if God will only spare me this once I 
promise that I will live very differently in the future than I have lived 
in the past.* 

"'My dear friend,* rejoined the minister, 'this is the last device of 
Satan to destroy your soul. I tell you faithfully, there is no future 
for you in this world; you are now passing, whilst I speak, through the 

It I 

it t 

it l^ 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 299 

gateway of Death, and what you do, you must do at once, or be lost 

"To this appeal the only answer was a deep groan, whilst the beads 
of moisture, gathering upon that ample forehead, and the swollen veins, 
drawn like a dark seam across it, betokened the anguish of a guilty 
spirit, shrinking from the presence of an angry God. A few seconds 
of awful silence intervened; but a last effort must be made to pluck 
this soul from the lethargy of despair. *Mr. M., do you remember 
the story of the penitent thief upon the cross? His time was short, 
just as yours is; but one brief prayer, not longer than a line, expressed 
his faith, and was enough. So you see that it is never too late.' 

"At this the closed eyes were opened, and the first word of hope fell 
from the parted lips: *No, it is not too late; thank God, it is not too 

"'Mr. M.,' said the pastor, *do you trust now in the Lord Jesus 

" *Yes, I do. He is my Savior, and I am not afraid to die !' rung out 
upon the startled listeners, as though a note from the song of the harp- 
ers had fallen from heaven into that chamber of death. 

"There was another silence of a few seconds — this time a silence of 
wonder and joy ; it was broken by the dying man, as he turned upon his 
side and whispered to the minister, 'Will you write to my father?* 
'Yes, certainly: but what shall I tell him?' 

'Tell him I have found Jesus, who has pardoned my sins, and I am 
not afraid to die. He will meet me in heaven.' 

"It was his last utterance, for in the next moment the soul, that had 
passed through this fierce struggle into the second birth, winged its 
separate flight, and stood before the throne. 

The whole interview thus described was shut up within the limits 
of fifteen minutes, from the moment of entrance into that darkened 
chamber till the tenantless body lay in its cold sweat, to be shrouded for 
the tomb. 

"Sad, yet sweet, were the pastor's thoughts as he walked to his home, 
beneath the stars, through the streets of the silent city — ^thoughts of the 
vast solemnity and preciousness of his office, as an ambassador for 
Christ — ^thoughts of that blessed family covenant by which God remem- 
bers the prayers of a believing parent, and looks at the tears in his bot- 
tle — ^sometimes even upon the death-bed of the child — thoughts of that 
unutterable love which saves, even to the uttermost, and makes it never 
too late to pluck the brand from the burning."' 

•This account was published in tract form under the title "Never 
Too Late" by the Committee of Publication, Richmond, Va. It had 
been previously published in the Southwestern Presbyterian, April i, 

300 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

The following letter illustrates the manner in which he was 
wont to exercise his functions as pastor, in happier times : 

New Orleans, September 4, 1869. 
Mr. Charles Bobb: 

My Dear Sir: Ever since your brother united with the Church, 
I have desired to speak to you on the subject which I doubt not you 
feel transcends all others in importance. To the present time, however, 
no fitting opportunity seemed to present itself — and it has occurred 
to me to avail myself of your absence to address you with the pen. 

"I regret that my knowledge of your views and feelings is so slight 
that I can give no special direction to the arrow that I now place on 
the string. But even in the dark some things may be safely assumed: 
among the rest, this: that if there be a Supreme Being in whom we 
live and move, then He is entitled to our supreme obedience and love. 
This, you perceive, draws the line between morality and religions, both 
of which have their proper spheres, but should never be confounded. 
It is not enough, that a man should fulfill faithfully all relative duties to 
his fellow men. There is another Being to whom he owes duties also; 
and these are supreme love and voluntary obedience. Failing in these, 
we are precisely as guilty under the first table of the law as we would 
be under the second, if convicted of robbery or theft. 

"Now, my dear sir, the question seems, how do you, and how do I, 
stand as to this point? There is one unequivocal test, God has made 
a revelation of himself, more glorious than any other, through his in- 
carnate Son. He commands us to accept that Son as the only Mediator 
through whom he will communicate with us. Pardon and eternal life 
are offered as the purchase of his blood. What I want you to notice 
is, that the command to believe 4n Jesus Christ as the only Savior of 
men rests upon the same authority with the command 'thou shalt not 
kill,' or, 'thou shalt not covet.' If we do not obey all the commands 
of God, we have not the spirit of true obedience to any; and as long 
as we withhold our love and our trust from Jesus Christ, we refuse 
obedience to God, who says, 'this is my beloved Son, hear ye him.' 

"I solicit most respectfully your attention, my dear sir, to this 'prin- 
cipal thing.' You have, like myself, reached an age at which the cover- 
ing is taken off from the delusions of the world. We are no longer 
children to be deceived by its promises. You have sucked the orange, 
and know that little remains but the pulp. But if there is a grand 
Hereafter, stretching on beyond the bounds of thought, possibly it may 
have something in store for an immortal soul, which this material earth 
is too poor to afford. The inheritance of life and love, purchased for 
us by the Redeemer, and offered freely to all who will accept it by faith 
— ^this, my dear sir, is the prize which I want you to grasp. Holiness 
forever, after God's image, and perfect fellowship with Him in heaven, 
this is the state to which I want you to aspire. And it is all, all 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 301 

found in Christ, at his cross, in the exercise of child-like, trusting faith. 
"Pardon now this great liberty which I have taken to which I am 
emboldened by the conviction that you are too generous to be offended 
with a well-meant — ^though it should seem an obtrusion — interest in 
your eternal welfare. With this apology and with my best wishes for 
the complete restoration of your health, I commend you, dear sir, to 
Almighty God and to the Spirit of his grace. 

"Respectfully and truly yours, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Dr. Palmer was a minister who stuck persistently at his 
work. Heavy as the burdens were which he carried, he rarely 
took a vacation. In June, 1867, his session requested him to 
take a vacation on the ground that his great labors were "en- 
dangering his health." As an alternate proposition they sug- 
gested that he should drop his Sabbath morning Bible class 
and his Sabbath evening sermon. A week later he gratefully 
thanked the session for these kind offers, declared that he did 
not share their alarm, but that out of deference to their judg- 
ment he would merge the male and female Bible classes into 
a Sunday night expository lecture. During these nine years 
he seems to have taken only one vacation. To that vacation 
he was urged in a wonderfully gracious way, and as graciously 
accepted : 

"At a meeting of the members of the First Presbyterian Church and 
Congregation, held on Sabbath morning, May 28, 1871, at the close of 
Divine Service, Judge Lee presiding, the following Resolutions were 
unanimously passed : 

"Whereas, It has pleased our Great Head to grant to the Church and 
Congregation for more than fifteen years a pastor who has been unre- 
mittingly engaged in ministerial duties, the greater part of that period 
in immediate pastoral labor and the remainder in toil as arduous, and 
far more anxious, in fields which for a time demanded his solicitude; 

"Whereas, During this long period he has been blessed with health 
and strength for his work, which has prospered in the temporal and spir- 
itual growth of the flock over which the Good Shepherd has made him 
overseer; and 

"Whereas, A ministry so unexampled for its usefulness and 
duration calls from the recipients an expression of thankfulness 
to their Heavenly Father; and of gratitude and affection to him who 
has been the instrument of such great good, and of those feelings which 
the occasion suggests, therefore be it 

"Resolved, That we render thanks and praises to Almighty God for 
that good hand which has been stretched out to us during the fifteen 

302 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

years of the present pastorate, leading us through many trials and vicis- 
situdes into a large and wealthy place, and enabling us to exclaim 'that 
we have a goodly heritage/ and that, therefore, *we rejoice and are glad/ 

"Resolved, That it is our happy privilege to testify to the earnest 
faithfulness and devotion of the Rev. Dr. Palmer, in the work from 
which he has permitted no temptation to draw him; and to thank him 
with all our hearts for the instruction which he has given us in his 
constant pulpit ministrations, for the sympathy and consolation With 
which he has lightened our homes in prosperity, in despondency, and 
in sickness ; and for those words of loving tenderness which have fallen 
upon the ear of our loved departed ones. No language that we can 
command is capable of expressing these thanks ; and we pray the Great 
Giver of all good to bestow upon him and his the blessings which he 
has so often asked for us and ours at the throne of heavenly grace. 

"Resolved, That labors so untiring and unremitting compel in us 
a feeling of anxiety, that the natural wear of human life may be acceler- 
ated unless there is a reasonable intermission therefrom. 

"Resolved, That a solemn sense of duty compels us to ask, that for 
a brief period, the Rev. Dr. Palmer, will remit his pastoral labors and 
enjoy a recreation that we firmly believe is needful for the continuance 
of the health which has so long been a blessing to him and afforded 
to us such high privileges and comforts, and the Master a laborer in 
his vineyard of such untiring energy and fidelity. 

"Resolved, That we tender to Dr. Palmer, and earnestly beseech him 
to accept a vacation of four months to commence at such a period as 
may be agreeable to him. 

"Resolved, That while we have no disposition to impose any restric- 
tion or condition upon the enjoyment of this vacation, yet, aware that 
the reputation for learning, eloquence, ability and pious zeal, which he 
enjoys, and of which we are justly proud, will induce from many 
sources, the call upon him for pulpit ministrations, we would most re- 
spectfully follow him with a wish, that this vacation may not be in- 
vaded otherwise than upon the call of highest duty. 

"Resolved, That the session be requested to take order for the re- 
quisite supply of the pulpit during Dr. Palmer's contemplated absence. 

"Resolved, That the chairman be requested to communicate to Dr. 
Palmer these Resolutions; and in such language as he may deem apt, 
express the earnest wishes of the Church and Congregation in this 
"Rev. B. M, Palmer: 

"My Dear Sir: I esteem it a great pleasure to be the organ of your 
Church and Congregation in communicating to you the accompanying 

"Your congregation appreciating the long and useful service you have 
rendered them during the many years which have elapsed since your 
ministration in this city commenced, and the spiritual comfort and 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 303 

consolation they have derived from your wholesome teaching, and from 
the kindly sympathy you have always extended to them in the hour of 
trouble ; and considering that they have a property in your good health 
have concluded with entire unanimity, to recommend to you a vacation 
from labor during the sultry months of the coming season, believing 
that an occasional season of repose is essential to long continued use- 
fulness and efficiency. 

"Trusting that you will see nothing in this arrangement inconsistent 
with your conceptions of duty, I beg leave, personally and on behalf 
of your congregation, to tender to you our best wishes for the comfort 
and happiness of yourself and family during your temporary absence. 

"Very respectfully yours, 

"J. N. Lee." 
"May 29th. 

"P. S. — ^A special fund of $3,000, the voluntary contribution of the 
members of your congregation, has been placed subject to your order, 
in the hands of the Treasurer of the Church. 

"Yours truly, 

"J. N. Lee." 

"New Okleans, La., June 10, 1871. 
"Hon. J. N. Lee. 

"My Dear Sir: I cannot tell whether I am affected more by the 
exquisitely tender resolutions adopted by the meeting over which you 
presided, or by the munificent provision which has been made for car- 
rying out the wishes of the Congregation. 

"Indeed, they are but the two parts of one act of supreme goodness ; 
which, however, make a separate appeal to my own gratitude. 

"As touching the sum placed at my disposal, I cannot forget that it 
has been raised at the close of a stringent season, which has been 
singularly unproductive of wealth to our whole community; nor, that 
the liberality of the donors has been already severely taxed by drafts 
necessary to sustain the public enterprises of the Church. 

"Both considerations lend an immense emphasis to the act of per- 
sonal generosity, while they serve to explain that delicacy of feeling 
which renders the beneficiary of such a bounty somewhat reluctant to 
avail himself of it. 

"In regard to the beautiful Resolutions throbbing in every line with a 
most generous affection, I can only say that I accept them as a sufficient 
reward for the labors of a lifetime. I do sincerely bless God that *He 
counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry* of his Son : and not 
less, that he has rendered its service a perfect joy to me for thirty years. 

"This, however, has not arisen from any sense of my own merit, 
but from the wonderful benevolence of every people whom it has been 
my privilege to serve. In the review of my whole ministry, both here 
and elsewhere, I feel complacency in but a single fact: that my public 

304 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

teachings have always centered upon the cross of Christ. Though I 
have not scrupled to employ the aids of philosophy and science, it has 
been only to illustrate the majesty of that grace which has wrought out 
a sinner's redemption. 

"Yet my heart has often bowed in shame and sorrow before God 
that the glory of such a theme could not inspire me with a loftier en- 
thusiasm, or fill me with a deeper consciousness of power. 

"You will understand then with what sweetness such a testimony 
comes, as that rendered in these Resolutions, to relieve the sense of 
grievous imperfection which clings to all the memory of my work. 
The approval of the good is, in one form, the seal of the Divine ac- 
ceptance, and for this, I bow my knees in adoring gratitude to the 
God of all my mercies. 

"It has pleased heaven, my dear sir, to grace my life with the sweet- 
est friendships man can possibly know upon earth; while in my official 
career, I have been permitted to rejoice in many precious tokens of 
the Divine favor. 

"It has made me almost tremble, at times, to think how happy I have 
been— only thrice in thirty years has grief thrown its dark shadow upon 
my path — ^all the rest have been sunlight and peace. Will you permit 
me to add that, of all this life, the portion which has been spent in this 
city and among this people — as it has been the most heroic, so it has 
been the most happy. 

"With all the gloom which has shrouded ten out of the fifteen years 
— with all the burden my soul has carried for a prostrate land and a 
witnessing Church — the consciousness of rectitude, the pleasure of my 
sweet work, and the love of my people, have made me happy — as I 
could be more so only in heaven. And I have no wish dearer to my 
heart, than to be spared for long usefulness in a Church which, I trust, 
may bear me in its arms to lay me down in their own tomb at death. 

"The indecision I have shown in accepting the large proposal of the 
Congregation, ought perhaps to be explained. It has arisen from two 
causes: First, life is so short, and the work of God so vast, in such a 
world as ours, that one would think every inch of time should be spent 
in active labor. My feeling always has been that nothing short of com- 
pulsory illness could excuse a respite from toil — and I could not in con- 
science allow that plea in the present instance. And, Secondly, it 
seemed to me almost wicked to divert to my personal benefit, funds that 
were so much needed to build up the spiritual wastes of our land. Af- 
ter anxious reflection, however, I have concluded that it would be un- 
grateful not to yield to the superb generosity which has been proffered 
to me with a delicacy and a tenderness absolutely overpowering. 

"It might seem obstinate, too, to oppose my judgment to that of 
others, who may discover traces of physical declension to which I am 
blind and whose jealous affection would stop the leak in its very be- 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 305 

"I consent, therefore, not without a reluctant admission of its neces- 
sity, to be put in thorough repair along with the church building itself 
— ^hoping that the autumn will bring the lease for a long term, without 
the need of paint or varnish. 

"I propose, therefore, to leave soon after the next Communion, on 
the first Sabbath in July, with a portion of my family — ^two members 
of which require the change far more than myself. 

"I ask that we may be borne upon the prayers of the Church, and that 
I may be permitted to return in 'the fulness of the blessing of the Gos- 
pel of Christ' My own prayers will be continually offered on behalf 
of a people who have been especially endeared to me of late, by the 
magnificent liberality with which they have responded to appeals for 
carrying on the work of God in this great city, and now doubly bound 
by so delicate and spontaneous an exhibition of their love to me per- 

"In conclusion, my very dear sir, be pleased to accept individual thanks 
for the handsome terms in which you have conveyed to me the action 
of the congregation ; which is but an illustration of the elegant courtesy 
by which you are distinguished, and an outflow of that personal re- 
gard which you have always shown to myself. 

"In bonds of Christian affection and sincerest gratitude, both to your- 
self and the constituency which you represent, I remain, dear sir, 

"Yours most truly, 

"B. M. Palmer."* 

Three months of this vacation were taken and spent in travel 
with a precious daughter then in a rapid and fatal decline. 

Dr. Palmer believed that it is not the part of a pastor to do 
all the work of the church. Accordingly, we find that he puts 
the session and the members to work. The session formally 
and earnestly invites the students of the Law and Medical 
schools to attend his church so far as they may desire to do so. 
Members of the session, so far as their time could be com- 
manded, were put actively to pastoral work. In December, 
1866, Dr. Palmer brought to his session's attention "the duty 
and importance of taking his Sabbath-school directly under 
its control, and of appointing superintendents to fill vacancies 
which had recently occurred ;" "to all which the session unan- 
imously agreed." A little later male communicants of his 
church are found banded together in a "brotherhood" for 
aggressive Christian work in their city. Likewise, also, there 
was a "sisterhood" formed to further the enterprises of the 

*The Southwestern Presbyterian published this correspondence, June 
22, 1871. 

3o6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"brotherhood" and other missionary endeavors. The "brother- 
hood" established and built up several flourishing Sunday- 
schools, at points in the city where there were apparently good 
openings. All their work was under the control of the session ; 
or, if not so in every case in its organization, it was soon 
brought not only really but formally under such control. 

Believing in the value of a good religious newspaper, the 
session of Dr. Palmer's church, under his lead, began with 
the very beginning of the Southwestern Presbyterian to sub- 
scribe for fifty copies of that excellent paper for distribution 
amongst the poor of the church. 

Good pictures of the church as it lived and labored in the 
latter portion of this period are found in the eloquent reports 
made to the Presbytery irom. year to year. Thus the report 
for the year ending April, 1870, says : 

"Sixty persons have been added to the roll of communicants; of 
whom thirty-six have been gathered from the world, by an open profes- 
sion of faith in Christ. The remaining twenty-four, received by letter, 
exactly balance an equal number dismissed by letter to other churches. 
To these must be added the names of ten others, whom it has pleased 
the Master to remove from earth, as we hope, to enjoy the joys of 
heaven. Our communion roll, after placing on the reserved list those 
for whom we cannot account, numbers six hundred. 

"During the past year, the officers of this Church, pastor, elders, 
and deacons, have been at their several posts, and engaged in the duties 
assigned to each. The Word has been preached with solemnity and con- 
stancy, without a single intermission of the services of the sanctuary. 
The attendance of the congregation has been punctual; except as it 
has been diminished by the usual absence of many during the summer. 
Since the autumn the congregation has been more than usually large; 
swelled by the presence of strangers in the city during the winter. 
Throughout the entire season the building has been filled, floor and 
galleries, with serious and attentive hearers; who have given every 
outward mark of, at least, a general interest in the truths to which 
they have listened. 

"The prayer-meeting on Wednesday night, has been regularly sus- 
tained, and the attendance upon it has been uniform and large. The 
lecture-room, seating two hundred or more persons, is generally full 
and sometimes crowded. It has taken the form of a prayer-meeting 
and lecture combined: an informal address being always made by the 
pastor, while the prayers are offered by the private members promiscu- 
ously called to lead in these devotions. Our experience has led to 
the conclusion that it is better to have one Well-sustained meeting of 
this kind, than to divide them into separate meetings as formerly. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 307 

We have gratifying evidence that this social and devotional meeting 
is highly prized by the pious, who find its exercises highly profitable. 

'There are five Sabbath-schools in connection with this Church, 
all of which are under the acknowledged control of the session. One 
of these is, of course, the Sabbath-school proper to the Church, em- 
bracing our own children and numbering two hundred and three 
in attendance. The remaining four are mission schools: two of which 
one of white and the other of colored children, are taught in our own 
lecture rooms, and number respectively one hundred and thirty- three, 
and ninety, scholars. Two other mission schools have been gathered 
in other portions of the city, numbering seventy-five teachers and six- 
hundred pupils. In connection with the two last, industrial classes 
have been formed, in which, on Saturday the little girls are taught 
to sew; and to which none are admitted but such as attend the Sab- 
bath-school. It is an inducement to ptmctuality and zeal in the Sab- 
bath exercises. The aggregate number in the five schools is one hun- 
dred and twenty-five teachers, and one thousand pupils. The fruit 
of these labors can scarcely be expected to be immediate : yet we have 
been called to notice with gratitude some clear instances in which 
the truth has been carried to the home of such as were before ignorant 
of it, and where its saving power has been felt 

"Probably the most noticeable feature of our religious history, 
during the year, has been the systematic effort to draw out the dor- 
mant energies of our church members in evangelical labors. A little 
more than a year ago, the male and female members of the Church 
and congregation were organized into two distinct associations; which 
have co-operated under the direction of the pastor and session. As 
the result, two flourishing Sabbath-schools have been gathered, and 
are now sustained by the active labors chiefly of our young people. 
A building has been erected, free of debt and costing about $2,000; 
and incipient steps have been taken for the erection of another. The 
contributions of these associations have hitherto supported, in great 
part, one of our ministerial brethren as a city missionary, who is at 
present laboring at Carrollton. An incidental benefit, of unmistakable 
value, has been the bringing together our church members, and mak- 
ing them acquainted with each other, thus greatly promoting Christian 
fellowship. 'Probably in no other way could we succeed in breaking 
up that crust which is apt to form over a large congregation; who 
drift away in their different social circles and are little brought into 
personal contact. The pleasure derived from this experience has led 
to another experiment, which also promises to work well. This is 
simply a social reunion, or levee, held each alternate week ; where some 
one of the congregation throws open the doors of his house to all those 
who choose to come, between the hours of seven and ten in the evening. 
In this way, different parties meet, who would otherwise never be 
thrown together; and the opportunity is afforded to new comers into 

3o8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the Church to form the Christian acquaintance they so much desire. 
This, however, is but an experiment as yet, the working of which 
we watch with interest Hints, too, will probably be suggested of 
new methods, by which to develop the graces and activities of the 
Lord's people — an aim which is to be held by us constantly in view. 
"In conclusion, the results of a year's toil fall far short of what we 
desire, and though our faith is sometimes staggered at the dispropor- 
tion between these and the efforts put forth, still it would be criminal 
ingratitude not to acknowledge the Divine goodness in what has been 
experienced. We have only to add that oxix hearts have been touched 
with grief by the recent death of Mr. Alfred Hennen, one of the old- 
est elders, and one of the original founders of this Church. He 
died in great peace, on the nineteenth of January last, having reached 
the eighty- fourth year of his age."* 

From subsequent reports it is learned that the prayer meet- 
ing in 1 87 1 was transferred from the lecture-room to the main 
audience room; that the attendance on that meeting, which 
"has been termed the electrometer of the Church" had increased 
in a most surprising way ; that it so well filled the body of that 
large room that it compared favorably with the diminished 
Sabbath audiences of the summer; that there had been con- 
siderable gains in the attendance on the Sabbath-schools ; that 
a second mission school building had been erected during the 
year, and that when the last payment should have been made, 
the outlay for the mission enterprises would amount to about 
$10,000. It is learned that the year ending April, 1872, was, 
while a year of aggressive effort, and increased attendance on 
the total of services, a year of discouragement because of the 
death of so many valued members, people of consecration and 
abilities, because of the removal from New Orleans of such a 
large number of his members, and because of the small num- 
ber of accessions to the church. The year 1872 was the first 
that Dr. Palmer ever reported to his Presbytery fewer mem- 
bers than he had the year before, but in April, 1872, he had 
eighteen fewer members than in April, 1871. His church had 
indeed rapidly decreased in membership during the last three 
years of the war, but he had not been on the ground. It is 
also learned, from these reports, that he had no other such 
discouraging year; that in April, 1874, the session reported 
six hundred and fifty members, his church supporting the Rev. 

•See Sessional Records, First Presbyterian Church of New Or- 
leans, under date of April 6, 1870. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 309 


A. J. Witherspoon as a city missionary, and the venerable 
elder, Mr. Joseph A. Maybin, in his labors at Carrollton ; and 
that in the several Sunday-schools one hundred and twenty 
teachers were teaching sixteen hundred and fifty-eight schol- 

He and his session displayed a most generous temper toward 
the sister Presbyterian congregations in all this aggressive 
Sunday-school work, encouraging their converts to enter any 
Presbyterian Church which convenience or duty might dictate. 
They were laboring for the upbuilding of Presbyterianism at 
large in the city rather than for the particular organization of 
the First Church. 

It was characteristic of this pastor and session to cultivate, 
on every side, the friendliest relations with the other churches 
of the same communion in the city. Dr. Palmer took measures 
to secure a joint celebration of the Lord's Supper on the first 
Sabbath of the year 1866. Thenceforth the custom prevailed 
throughout the period, of the joint communion of all the Pres- 
byterian churches on the first Sabbath of the year. Their ses- 
sional records show that the First Church communed not only 
in the solemnest rite of the Church with these other brethren, 
but generously helped financially as occasion demanded. 

Between 1868 and 1870, the "carpetbag" adventurers coming 
into power, put some extreme reconstruction measures into 
force in New Orleans. "One of these measures was rule 
No. 39, passed by the Board of Education, April 8, 1870, ad- 
mitting colored pupils to the white schools, in accordance with 
the law of the 'carpetbag' legislature. This rule aroused the 
bitterest feelings of opposition in New Orleans, and in spite 
of the exertions of State Superintendent Conway, who rendered 
himself obnoxious by his ill-advised efforts, it was found im- 
possible to enforce it. The agitation did not cease until" about 
"two years later when separate schools were provided for the 
two races." • Meanwhile Mr. William O. Rogers had become 
the founder of a system of parochial schools for whites, one of 
which was the Sylvester Larned Institute for girls. Mr. 
Rogers was a man of ample furnishing for such an enterprise. 
He was a highly respected member of Dr. Palmer's church. 

His venture met with hearty support by the Presb)rterians of 


•From Henry Rightor's Standard History of New Orleans, Louis- 
iana, p. 240. 

3IO Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

the city ; and was a great success as long as there seemed to 
be any sufficient motive for keeping up these parochial schools 
— ^that is, till the end of the "carpetbag" government in 1877., 

The eight schools thus set agoing were under the care of 
the several Presbyterian Churches of the city. They enrolled 
eight hundred pupils the first session. The one assigned orig- 
inally to the First Church was the high school for girls. Dur- 
ing the first session between eighty and ninety pupils attended 
the institute. During the next session one hundred and sixty 
pupils attended it; and the trustees of the church were so en- 
couraged by its prospects that they assumed a debt of about 
$20,000 in order to the purchase of a suitable building in which 
to house the institution. 

There can be little question that Dr. Palmer's labors in the 
institute, as well as his influence in its behalf, contributed much 
to its success. The suggestion to establish such schools proba- 
bly came from him. Once established he gave the one his 
church specially fathered not a little valuable service. Com^ 
mencing November 10, 1870, he delivered a set of lectures 
upon "The Philosophy of History." There were twelve lec- 
tures in the course. The briefs of these lectures indicate that 
he threw himself into this course with all his accustomed 
energy. His estimate of the mental power of schoolgirls must 
have been very high if he expected them to carry with them 
an adequate brief of what he said. Some of these lectures 
are now sadly antiquated, in view of the discoveries touching 
the civilizations of the Nile, Euphrates, and Tigris Valleys, 
made since they were written. Others would be counted very 
able if published now ; but they all speak of the huge energy 
of the busy pastor who could find time for the wide reading 
they evince, and of the profound philosophical sagacity of the 
student who could trace the interconnections of the great 
events with which he dealt in such an approximately master- 
ful way. 

He delivered them to the school in the lecture room of his 
church. Not only were the students of the school admitted; 
but the public, by ticket, as far as the space permitted. The 
lectures were delivered, for the most part, one each week, till 
toward the end of January, then one in a fortnight. 

They were reported and commented on severally in the New 
Orleans Picayune and perhaps in other papers. For example, 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 311 

the Picayune of Deconber 14, 1870, says of the fourth lecture: 

"When wc take into consideration the fact that the Reverend gentle- 
man appears before his audience without a single memorandum, or 
note, and discourses for an hour and a half without intermission, we 
are surprised at his clear, powerful and retentive memory, which, 
grasping the history of a world gradually unfolds it, and by graphic 
descriptions (interspersing names and dates with wonderful cor- 
rectness and celerity) lays before his auditors the knowledge contained 

"The fourth lecture brought down the history to the period of the 
exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. The speaker traced the rise of 
the Assyrian Empire, which absorbed the Chaldean and sketched its 
sovereignity over all southwestern Asia; and also that of Egypt from 
its first settlement till the eighteenth dynasty, including the period 
of foreign domination when the Shepherd Kings held the land. 

"He likewise traced the history of the patriarch Abraham and his 
successors, and dwelt at length upon the epoch of the rise of the As- 
syrian Empire, as of one great political change, with which all these 
movements stood historically connected. 

*The lecture was simply a grouping together of the leading his- 
torical events, during a period of five hundred years, as these bear 
upon the general history of the world. 

"In the next lecture on Friday evening, December i6th. Dr. Palmer 
proposes to trace the rise of idolatry in the Asiatic kingdoms, and the 
different forms it assumed." 

According to references in the Southwestern Presbyterian, 
this course of lectures "charmed," "enchanted" and richly in- 
structed his audiences. 

By September i, 1871, the Sylvester Lamed Institute seemed 
to be fairly on its feet. It had been established in quarters 
specially furnished for it. The session of Dr. Palmer's church 
was now asked to come to the aid of another parochial school. 
It was asked to allow the parochial school for boys, under 
Messrs. Morrison and Roudebush, to occupy the lecture-room 
of their church, vacated by the institute. In this way his in- 
terest in behalf of these schools was still further stimulated. 

Dr. Palmer's services were not confined to New Orleans 
and to Presbyterians there in this period. As a member of 
the higher courts he rendered distinguished services. 

In consequence of the Federal occupation of New Orleans in 
the spring of 1862, the Presbytery of New Orleans was soon 
afterwards divided. Till the end of the war it was not pos- 
sible to hold a reunited meeting of the Presbytery. The for- 

312 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

tunes of war had pressed a portion of its members away from 
their homes. Nor could any communication be held with those 
that remained. The portion of the Presbytery which was with- 
out held regular meetingps under the sanction and by the order 
of the Synod of Mississippi, and was duly represented in the 
superior courts of the Church. That portion of the Presbytery 
within the city and in the La Fourche region also held its meet- 
ings and took such action from time to time as the order and 
safety of the churches under its care required. For the first 
time in more than three years these separated portions met, in 
October, 1865. The reunited bodies, under Dr. Palmer's lead, 
admitted the minutes of the two separate bodies to record as 
giving the full history of the Presbytery without assigning 
precedence to either body. Further the Presbytery placed itself 
precisely at the point occupied before the separation of its 
parts, sustaining the same ecclesiastical relations which it had 
at the last fall meeting, in 1862, held. Thus was the Presby- 
tery of New Orleans brought to rights, from the action taken 
by the portion of the body inside New Orleans, March 9, 
1864; at which time it had declared itself "free from the juris- 
diction and control of any other ecclesiastical body whatso- 
ever," and had assumed the position of an independent presby- 
tery under its old name and style. 

As early as February, 1866, Dr. Palmer had organized and 
applied a plan by which to draw out the liberality of his own 
people to the utmost in behalf of the Southern Presb)rterian 
Church at large. 

The following letter to the Rev. Dr. J. B. Adger, concerned 
chiefly about the publication and sale of the collected writings 
of the Rev. Dr. James Henley Thornwell, shows that he was 
ready to call upon his people not only for the support of the 
great causes of the Church, but for occasional and special gifts : 

"New Orleans, May 11, 1867. 

"Dear Adger: Scribner's proposal is not liberal. Baird's is too ex- 
pensive, and further he does not possess the facilities to push the work 
into the general market. Robinson's plan is the best for the reason, 
above all others, that it vests the property in the family; and it would 
be pleasant to think whatever profits arise from the publication should 
enure to the benefit of those whom our dear and venerated brother 
loved best on earth. 

"If Robinson, who lives where money is more plentiful, will under- 
take to raise the half of $2,000, I think we might assume the remainder 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 313 

without undue risk. It is true, we in this city are lying under terrible 
pressure, from the necessity of raising $60,000 or $70,000 for our own 
churches here or to lose them altogether; and from the fact that our 
merchants have been drained to the last cent by advancing to the plant- 
ers who have been overflowed two successive seasons, and now require 
to be fed by public beneficence. Still the sponge can be squeezed a 
little harder; and I am willing to try, after a short breathing spell 
has been allowed after incessant solicitations of late. 

"In this arrangement, however, one thing must be considered. The 
books must be circulated, as well as printed, and to this end, the usual 
channels of trade must be employed. If I remember aright, Robin- 
son, after printing his book in Canada, effected some arrangement with 
the Appletons by which it was made their interest to push it out into 
circulation; whilst the connection with the publishers at Toronto se- 
cured an agency by which the work was brought before the British 
public Something of the same sort will be required in this case. 

"As to the arrangement of the volumes, you will have to be guided 
by the amount of matter and the necessity of imparting something like 
unity to volumes made up of monographs. For example, the volume 
on Truth will not be as large as that of the Lectures, unless you 
swell it to equal size by coupling together all the fugitive papers on 
moral topics. So the Apochrypha will have to carry along all that 
he ever wrote on Romanism. 

"His Church essays, theological tracts, and literary articles and ad- 
dresses may fill two volumes, perhaps only one. You will of course 
be able to decide after closely examining the papers, and estimating 
their bulk. 1 

"I would say, stereotype as far as you can raise means to do it — 
then let the proceeds of the sale be reserved for the publication of the 
rest : after which, all will belong to Mrs. Thornwell and the children — 
only, do not push this arrangement for their benefit so as to embarrass 
the first circulation of the work in America and in 1E!urope. 

"I do not know to what the project of a Southwest seminary may 
grow but my impression is that at present it will fail. It is Lyon's 
hobby, and the Tombeckbee Memorial is only the reflexion of his de- 
sire. At the same time, my candid judgment is that the removal of 
Columbia Seminary (say, to Memphis) would be immeasurably to 
its interest. If Missouri and Kentucky come to us the case will be 
stronger. The Synods of South Carolina and Georgia would do well 
to consider the whole matter seriously. At present I am wholly opposed 
to the multiplication of our institutions. 

"Yours affectionately, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Dr. Palmer was a member of the General Assembly of 1866. 
His greatest service, in that body, was his drafting the follow- 

314 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

ing report of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, in 
which he leads his Assembly to say graciously to two sister 
communions, "Come and join us on our platform, by which we 
must stand :" 

"The G>mmittee on Foreign Gjrrespondcnce would respectfully sub- 
mit to the Assembly the following minute for its adoption : 

"This Assembly has received with the liveliest satisfaction, and re- 
ciprocates with the utmost cordiality, the Christian greetings of the 
Associate Reformed Synod of the South, through its representative, 
the Rev. H. L. Murphy, and of the General Assembly of the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Church, through its representative, the Rev. C. A. Davis, 
D.D. If nothing more were gained by this fraternal correspondence 
than the expressions before the world of the spiritual unity and fellow- 
ship of the Lord's people amidst seeming diversity and separation, the 
Assembly would for this reason alone desire its continuance. But es- 
pecially is this interchange to be perpetuated, in the hope that it may 
lead, at no distant day, to a closer union. These corresponding dele- 
gates have both tmofficially expressed their conviction that many in 
their respective communions are ready for this consummation, and 
this declaration is made in face of the fact that the Associate Reformed 
Synod at its last session terminated the negotiations for an organic un- 
ion with this Assembly; and in face of the fact that no overtures for 
such union have as yet originated in the Assembly of the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Church. This Assembly would, therefore, seize this op- 
portunity to open its heart, and to put on record a formal deliverance 
touching this whole matter of consolidation into one body all who 
can stand together upon the same platform of doctrine and order. 

"The spiritual body of Christ is undeniably one, having *one Lord, 
one faith, one baptism;' and whilst from the infirmity of our unsanc- 
tified nature, differences emerge between those who cannot, upon 
all points, see eye to eye, yet must this spiritual unity struggle to real- 
ize itself, before the world, and bring into visible fellowship and un- 
der one discipline all who fundamentally agree, and by subordinating 
minor differences of opinion to the cardinal doctrines of the Gospel. 
The High-Priestly prayer of our blessed Redeemer finds a response 
in every Christian heart — 'that they all may be one, as thou, Father, 
art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world 
may believe that thou hast sent me.* It is, however, the mature judg- 
ment of the Assembly that this union of true believers, in its outward 
and visible expression, must begin by approximating those bodies of 
Christians who agree in their symbols* of doctrine and order, and who 
are separated only by shades of opinion which call for mutual toleration 
and indulgencies, leaving to the nearer approach of the millennial 
glory the obliteration of those broader and deeper denominational lines 
which may still break the visible unity of the Church. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls, 315 

"In practically carrying out this idea, the Assembly, laying aside 
ecclesiastical etiquette, would affectionately say to their brethren of 
the Associate Reformed Synod that they may pull the latch string of 
our dwelling whenever they may choose, and may be incorporated with 
us upon the simple adoption of our Standards wherever those may 
happen to differ from their own; and to our brethren of the Cumber- 
land Presb3rterian Church, we respectfully suggest whether the time 
has not come to consider the great importance to the kingdom of our 
common Master, of their union with us by the adoption of the time- 
honored Standards to which we adhere. 

"This argument, of visibly realizing the spiritual unity of the Lord's 
people, is enforced by the peculiar circumstances of the times in which 
we live, and by the nature of the controversies which now agitate 
the Church. The old conflict for the spirituality and independence of 
the Church is, to the amazement of many, renewed in our day and upon 
our own continent. The battle, fought generations ago by the Mel- 
villes, Gillespies and Hendersons, of Scotland, is reopened with sing- 
ular violence; and the old banner is again floating over us with its 
historic inscription. Tor Christ's Covenant and Crown.' Upon no one 
subject is the mind of this Assembly more clearly ascertained — ^upon 
no one doctrine is there a more solid or perfect agreement amongst 
those whom this Assembly represents, than the non-secular and non- 
political character of the Church of Jesus Christ. Whatever ambiguous 
or indiscreet expressions may have been extorted under the pressure 
of extraordinary excitement, from individuals amongst us, the Assem- 
bly of this Church deliberately reaflirms the testimony given in the 
solemn address to the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the earth, 
issued in 1861, during its first session in the city of Augusta, and which 
was pronounced in these words: The provinces of Church and State 
are perfectly distinct, and the one has no right to usurp the jurisdiction 
of the other. The State is a natural institute, founded in the consti- 
tution of man as moral and social, and designed to realize the idea of 
justice. The Church is a supernatural institute, founded in the fact of 
redemption, and is designed to realize the idea of grace. It is the 
society of the redeemed. The State aims at social order, the Church 
at spiritual holiness. The State looks to the visible and outward; the 
Church is concerned for the invisible and inward. The badge of the 
State's authority is the sword, by which it becomes a terror to evil 
doers and a praise to them that do well; the badge of the Church's 
authority is the keys, by which it opens and shuts the kingdom of 
heaven, according as we are believers or impenitent. The power of 
the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the ex- 
ercise of force. The Constitution of the Church is a Divine Revela- 
tion; the Constitution of the State must be determined by human rea- 
son and the course of providential events. The Church has no right 
to construct a government for the State; and the State has no right 

3i6 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are as planets moving 
in different orbits, and unless each is confined to its own track, the 
consequences may be as disastrous in the moral world as the collision 
of different spheres in the world of matter/ The early assertion of 
this radical distinction at the very opening of our history, commits us 
to the maintenance and defence of the crown rights of the Redeemer, 
whether, on the one hand, they be usurped by the State, or whether, 
on the other, they be removed by any portion of God's professing peo- 
ple. Summoned thus in the Providence of God to contend for the same 
principles for which our martyr fathers of the Scottish Reformation 
testified even to the death, and which the fathers of the Southern 
Presbyterian Church labored so earnestly to secure, and rejoiced in 
having obtained their full recognition by the civil government in 
America, it would be most happy if all those in the different branches 
of the Presbyterian family, who are called to renew the protest, could 
be united in one homogeneous body for the reassertion of Christ's 
royal supremacy in and over his spiritual kingdom, the Church. The 
scattered testimony of separate and individual witnesses would deepen 
in intensity, if gathered into one volume and rolled against those who 
would place the crown of Jesus upon the head of Caesar. In view of all 
which, this Assembly would tender the hand to all who are of like mind 
with us as to the doctrines of grace, and as to the order and discipline 
of God's house; that, as one compacted Church, we may oppose a 
breakwater against the current which is sweeping from its moorings 
our common Protestantism, until the doctrine of the Church as a free 
spiritual commonwealth shall regain its ascendency, not only over the 
Presbyterian, but over the whole American Protestant mind. 

"Your committee further recommend that the Rev. Jas. A. Lyon, 
D.D., with the Rev. J. N. Caruthers as his alternate, be appointed to 
bear the salutations of this body to the Associate Reformed Synod of 
the South, at their meeting to be held at Clarksville, Mississippi, on 
the third Thursday in September, 1867, and that the Rev. T. D. 
Witherspoon, with the Rev. David A. Cummings as his alternate, be 
appointed to do the same to the General Assembly of the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Church, at their meeting to be held at Memphis, Tenn., 
on the third Thursday of May, 1867. It is further recommended that 
a committee of five be appointed by this Assembly to confer with any 
similar committee on the part of the Cumberland Presbyterian As- 
sembly, to ascertain how far the way is prepared for an organic union 
between the two bodies upon the basis of the Westminster Standards. 

"The following preamble and resolutions are also respectfully sub- 
mitted to the consideration of the Assembly: 

"Whereas, The General Assembly of our Church did, upon its 
first organization in 1861, make an explicit declaration, in an address 
to all the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the earth, of its sincere 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 317 

desire to hold fellowship, as far as practicable, with all the disciples of 
our common Lord and Savior in all the world; and 
"Whereas, We are led to hope that important and happy results 


may be secured in promoting the great ends of Christian fellowship 
by the appointment of chosen brethren, whose duty it shall be, as our 
representatives, to bear true expressions of our views and wishes to 
such Christians, churches and societies in the Kingdom of Great Brit- 
ain and Ireland, and, if deemed best, on the Continent of Europe also, 
as the providence of God may designate, and to explain to them, as 
opportimity may offer, the character, condition, work and prospects of 
our beloved Zion; to receive such contributions as may be voluntarily 
offered in aid to our general schemes of evangelization; therefore 

"Resolved, That this General Assembly does now appoint the Rev. 
M- D. Hoge, D.D., Rev. B. M. Palmer, D.D.,* and Rev. J. L. Girar- 
deau to this important mission, and earnestly solicit their acceptance 
of the same. 

"Resolved, That in view of the privations to which the congregations 
of these brethren will be subjected during their absence, the Assembly 
does hereby request their cheerful concurrence in a measure consid- 
ered by the Church to be one of so much interest, and whose success- 
ful prosecution must so greatly depend, under God, upon the peculiar 
fitness of those to whom it is entrusted. 

"Resolved, That the Moderator and Stated Clerk be directed to 
furnish the brethren here appointed with an attested copy of this paper, 
and with such other testimonials as may be considered proper. 

"Resolved, That the Executive Committee of Domestic Missions and 
Publications be directed to make such a provision for the expenses of 
this mission as may be deemed suitable. 

"All of which is respectfully submitted." 

Dr. Palmer's labors at the revision of the Hymn Book, pro- 
tracted now since 1861, came to an end toward the close of 
1866. The Assembly of that year instructed its committee to 
consider, indeed, certain further suggestions ; and, if its judg- 
ment approved, adopt them; and then to turn the manu- 
script over to the Committee of Publication to be published. 
The result of their labors was an excellent book; it served 
the Church well to the end of the century. To Dr. Palmer's 
labors is due no small credit for whatsoever of excellence it 

Dr. Palmer appeared next in the Assembly, when it met at 
Louisville, in 1870. While there the eyes of a newspaper 

^ The insertion of Dr. Palmer's name in this resolution, was of course 
by amendment. 

3i8 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

man naturally fell upon him. A consequence was this sketch 
of the New Orleans divine's appearance ^d character: 

"Among the ministers now in Louisville attenokig the session of the 
Presbyterian General Assembly, is one having a slight figure and swart 
complexion, who attracts a degree of attention somewhat out of pro- 
portion to his rather unimposing presence and unobtrusive demeanor. 
One would hardly take this man for a famous divine, and still less for 
a brilliant orator. He moves quietly about like a shadow, but he is an 
active religious leader, and close, observant scrutiny will presently 
detect a certain tone and character in his method of moving and having 
his being; a certain glow in the eye; a certain restless tremor about 
the lip; a certain exceptional play about the features which mark the 
difference between great faculties in a common case and ordinary 
faculties in a large and showy case, the distinction, in short, between 
outward port and presence and inward genius. The man is named 
Palmer and he comes from New Orleans where he is very well known 
and appreciated." 

To the Louisville Assembly of 1870, came the Rev. J. C. 
Backus, D.D., the Rev. H. J. Van Dyke, D.D., and the Hon. 
W. E. Dodge, from the General Assembly of the Presb)rterian 
Church of the United States of America. The Old and New 
School bodies, North, had come together in iSSg-'yo, .They 
were anxious for the Southern Church to come into their 
body. Reaffirming the "Concurrent Declaration" of the Old 
and New) School Assemblies, North, 1869, viz.: "That no 
rule or precedent which does not stand approved by both bodies 
shall be of any authority in the reunited body, except in so far 
as such rule or precedent may effect the rights of property 
founded thereon," they seemed to think they had torn away 
every bar to the consideration of union. When the representa- 
tives of the Assembly, North, had been heard, the paper which 
they had l>rought from their body was referred to the "Com- 
mittee on Foreign Correspondence," of which Dr. Palmer was 
the chairman, "with instructions to report at the earliest pos- 
sible time recommending an answer to the proposition" thus 
made. The majority report of this committee, after a pre- 
amble, said : 

"Whatever obstructions may exist in the way of cordial intercourse 
between the two bodies are entirely of a public nature and involve great 
and fundamental principles. The Southern Presbyterian Church can 
confidently appeal to all the acts and declarations of all their Assem- 
blies, that no attitude of aggression or hostility has been, or is now, 
assumed by it toward the Northern Church. And this General As- 

Rebuilding the Brokei^ Walls. 319 

sembly distinctly avows (as it has always believed and declared) that 
no grievances experienced by us, however real, would justify us in 
acts of aggression or a spirit of malice or retaliation against any 
branch of Girist's visible kingdom. We are prepared, therefore, in 
advance of all discussion, to exercise toward the General Assembly 
North, and the churches represented therein, such amity as fidelity to 
our principles could, under any possible circumstances, perihit Under 
this view, the appointment of a Committee of Conference might seem 
wholly unnecessary ; but, in order to exhibit before the Christian world 
the spirit of conciliation and kindness to the last degree, this Assembly 
agrees to appoint a Committee of Conference to meet a similar com- 
mittee already appointed by the Northern Assembly, with instructions 
to the same that the difficulties which lie in the way of cordial cor- 
respondence between the two bodies must be distinctly met and re- 
moved, and which may be comprehensively stated in the following 
particulars : 

''i. Both the wings of the now united Assembly, during their sep- 
arate existence before the fusion, did fatally complicate themselves with 
the State in political utterances deliberately pronounced year after year, 
and which, in our judgment, were a sad betrayal of the cause and 
kingdom of our common Lord and Head. We believe it to be solemn- 
ly incumbent upon the Northern Presbyterian Church, not with ref- 
erence to us, but before the Christian world and before our divine 
Master and King, to purge itself of this error, and, by public procla- 
lamation of the truth, to place the crown once more upon the head of 
Jesus Christ as the alone King of Zion; in default of which the 
Southern Presbyterian Church, which has already suffered much in 
maintaining the independence and spirituality of the Redeemer's king- 
dom upon earth, feels constrained to bear public testimony against this 
defection of our late associates from the truth. Nor can we, by official 
correspondence even, consent to blunt the edge of this our testimony 
concerning the very nature and mission of the Church as a purely 
spiritual body among men. 

"2. The union now consummated between the Old and New School 
Assemblies, North, was accomplished by methods which, in our judg- 
ment, involve a total surrender of all the great testimonies of the 
Church for the fundamental doctrines of grace, at a time when the 
victory of truth over error hung long in the balance. The United 
Assembly stands of necessity upon an allowed latitude of interpreta- 
tion of the Standards, and must come at length to embrace nearly all 
shades of doctrinal belief. Of those falling testimonies we are now the 
sole surviving heir, which must lift from the dust and bear to the gen- 
eration after us. It would be a serious compromise of this sacred 
trust to enter into public and official fellowship with those repudiating 
these testimonies; and to do this expressly upon the ground, as stated 
in the preamble to the overture before us, 'that the terms of reunion 

320 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

between the two branches of the Presbyterian Church at the North, 
now happily consummated, present an auspicious opportunity for the 
adjustment of such relations.' To fotmd a correspondence professedly 
upon this idea would be to endorse that which we thoroughly disap- 

"3. Some of the members of our own body were but a short time since 
violently and unconstitutionally expelled from the communion of one 
branch of the now united Northern Assembly, under ecclesiastical 
charges which, if true, render them utterly infamous before the Church 
and the world. It is to the last degree unsatisfactory to construe this 
offensive legislation obsolete by the mere fusion of that body with 
another, or through the operation of a faint declaration which was not 
intended originally to cover this case. This is no mere 'rule' or 'prece- 
dent,' but a solemn sentence of outlawry against what is now an im- 
portant and constituent part of our own body. Every principle of honor 
and of good faith compels us to say that an unequivocal repudiation 
of that interpretation of the law under which these men were con- 
demned must be a condition precedent to any official correspondence 
on our part. 

"4. It is well known that similar injurious accusations were preferred 
against the whole Southern Presbyterian Church, with which the ear 
of the whole world has been filled. Extending, as these charges do, 
to heresy and blasphemy, they cannot be quietly ignored by an indirec- 
tion of any sort. If true, we are not worthy of the 'confidence, respect, 
Christian honor and love,' which are tendered to us in this overture. 
If untrue, 'Christian honor and love, manliness and truth,' require them 
to be openly and squarely withdrawn. So long as they remain upon 
record, they are an impassable barrier to official intercourse." • 

These resolutions were adopted by the Assembly, by a vote 
of eighty-three to seventeen. Those antagonistic to the reso- 
lutions, had opposed them on the ground that they sprang 
"from hatred," and were "an exhibition of a bitter spirit." By 
implication they made the claim that they themselves were pos- 

'This paper as originally drawn by Dr. Palmer, "simply declined all 
correspondence for reasons which are assigned." When submitted to 
the Committee on Correspondence, however, this was deemed unneces- 
sarily harsh. The sentiment prevailed, that courtesy required at least 
the concession of a committee to confer. As a compromise, this was 
yielded, and the committee was granted with instructions. The change 
was against the chairman's judgment, and gave to the whole paper an 
aspect of incongruity under which it has always suffered." — Dr. Palmer, 
in the Southwestern Presbyterian, July 17, 1873. He thought that for 
the Southern Church to meet and confer with the Northern about the 
schism, involved an admission of guilt on her part 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 321 

sessed of more piety and Christian spirit than those who ad- 
vocated the resolutions. They condemned the resolutions for 
making an3rthing of the union of the Old and New School 
churches, North, as a ground of difference between the Assem- 
bly, North, and South, at the present time, since there had 
been a union between the corresponding bodies, South. 

Dr. Palmer took a most effective part in the debate, in the 
open meetings of the Assembly, in behalf of the resolutions. 
He can be said fairly to have cut into shavings the arguments 
of his opponents." 

After the taking of the vote, the Committee of Foreign Cor- 
respondence was directed to prepare and report a letter, to be 
addressed to the churches under the care of this Assembly, 
explanatory of the action of the General Assembly in the paper 
which it had just adopted. Two days later. Dr. Palmer, from 
his Committee on Foreign Correspondence, presented the fol- 
lowing letter, which was adopted : 

"Beloved Brethren: It is alike the privilege and duty of all the 
courts of the Church, and especially of the General Assembly, as look- 
ing forth upon the whole field from the point of highest elevation, 
occasionally to address the churches under its care upon topics which 
vitally affect the interests of the entire body. In the discharge of this 
episcopal function, this General Assembly now addresses you upon a 
matter of fundamental importance, which has supremely engaged its 
own attention during its present sessions in the city of Louisville. 

"You have been aware for a twelvemonth past of an overture from 
the Old School Assembly, North, adopted at its sessions in 1869, tender- 
ing salutations to us, and expressing the desire of our union with them 
at no distant day. This overture was virtually superseded by the fusion 
which subsequently took place between the two great Presbyterian 
branches, North, into one organization. This united body, sitting con- 
temporaneously with ourselves, in Philadelphia, has passed a resolu- 
tion appointing a committee of conference to act with a similar commit- 
tee which they invite us to -appoint, who shall jointly discuss the diffi- 
culties existing between the two bodies and prepare the way for a per- 
manent and fraternal correspondence. This proposition was conveyed 
to us by a special delegation, consisting of Rev. Drs. J. C Backus and 
H. J. Van Dyke and the Hon. W. E. Dodge, gentlemen of the highest 
character and personally most acceptable to us, who discharged their 
delicate mission in a spirit and manner which made the most pleasant 
impression of their courtesy as well as ability. 

•The arguments he employed may be seen in the letter to the 
Church, explanatory of the Assembly's action, given a little below. 

322 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

"In response to this proposition, this General Assembly has agreed, 
in the spirit of conciliation and Christian kindness, to appoint the 
Committee of Conference which was desired, and then, in the form of 
instructions to the same, has laid down the principles which should 
control the whole matter, and upon which alone any correspondence 
on our part would be possible. It may perhaps appear to you, and it 
will doubtless be so represented by others, that a proposition so simple 
as that of conference for the adjustment of difficulties, might have been 
left unembarrassed by any antecedent enunciation of what the Assembly 
regards as the obstructions to fraternal and official correspondence. 
It is precisely this which we desire you to understand, as well as the 
reasons which impelled us to the course we have pursued. The re- 
flective and thoughtful amongst you will at once recognize that, in dip- 
lomatic intercourse, the first step is always the most important It is 
this that determines all the future and dependent negotiations; and, 
however unobtrusive the initiatory measure may appear to be, it is of- 
ten pregnant with concealed results of vast magnitude. This is preemi- 
nently true in the case before us. It was incumbent upon us to watch 
narrowly, lest, in the very opening of negotiations, we might incau- 
tiously surrender the principles we hold, which, slipping from our 
grasp, we might never be able to recover. 

"The overture from the Northern Assembly was based upon the fatal 
assumption that mutual grievances existed, in reference to which it 
became necessary to arbitrate. This assumption is precisely what we 
cannot truthfully concede. Our records may be searched in vain for a 
single act of aggression, or a single unfriendly declaration against the 
Northern Church. We have assumed no attitude of hostility toward it. 
In not a single case has there been an attempt to wrest from them their 
Church property. In not a single case has there been hesitation in re- 
ceiving their members into our communion upon the face of their cre- 
dentials, amongst the hundreds who have come to make their home with 
us since the War. In not one instance has there been exhibited a spirit 
of retaliation in regard to any of those very measures instituted against 
ourselves by the Assembly of 1865 and by subsequent Assemblies^ 

"Whatever obstructions may be in the way of ecclesiastical fellow- 
ship were not created by us, and we could not allow ourselves to be 
placed in the false position, before the world, of parties who had been 
guilty of wrong to the Northern Church. Having placed nothing in 
the way of Christian fraternity, there was nothing for us to remove. 
Whilst, therefore, in Christian courtesy, we were willing to appoint a 
Committee of Conference, it was necessary to guard against all mis- 
construction, and misrepresentation by instructing our commissioners 
to remember this fact, and restricting them to the duty of simply re- 
porting and expounding what we considered indispensable to an honest 
correspondence, which should not, by its insincerity and hollowness, be 
an offense to our divine Master. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 323 

"Inasmuch as we had never been aggressors against the peace, se- 
curity and prosperity of the Northern Church, and had not undertaken 
to approach them with proposals of any sort. Christian candor required 
us, as the party approached, to state exactly the difficulties which did 
embarrass the question of correspondence. Without going into much 
detail or multiplying the specifications, these were summed up under 
four heads — ^the significance and importance of which we would have 
you to appreciate. 

"It must be remembered, then, that in 1861 the organization of the 
Southern Church was compelled by what are known as the 'Spring 
Resolutions,' which committed the Old School Assembly, with which 
we were at that time connected, to a particular political theory, and 
complicated the Church at once with the State. The necessary effect 
of this political legislation by the Assembly in 1861 was to force the 
entire Southern constituency out of that connection, who were com- 
pelled in their disorganized condition at once to integrate in the South- 
ern Assembly, which was soon afterwards formed. The earliest deliv- 
erance of this, our own body, was the assertion of the non-secular and 
non-political character of the Church, as the kingdom of Jesus Christ, 
spiritual in its nature and mission, and entirely separate from and in- 
dependent of the State. And in subsequent deliverances — as those of 
the Assembly of 1865, at Macon, and the two utterances of the Assem- 
bly of 1866, at Memphis, and the formal acceptance of the statement of 
doctrines and principles of the Synod of Kentucky on this subject, by 
the Assembly of 1867, at Nashville — ^thc supreme court of the Southern 
Church has, with singular steadfostness, tiestified for the same great 
truth. Upon this very issue we became an organized Church, as dis- 
tinct from that out of whose bosom we had been thrust by the assertion 
and operation of the contrary and Erastian doctrine that the Churdi 
might rightly intermingle her jurisdiction with that of the Common- 
wealth. Through several consecutive years, both branches of the now 
united Assemblies persisted in the utterance of political dogmas, which, 
whether true or false, they were inhibited by the word of God and by 
their own statute law from pronouncing in their ecclesiastical chambers. 
These unlawful utterances remain uncancelled upon the records of 
both the courts now amalgamated into one. No disavowal of them 
has been made, as of words inconsiderately uttered in times of high 
excitement No counter declaration has been filed, gathering up the 
sacred truth of God as a new proclamation of the spirituality and in- 
dependence of that kingdom which is not of this world. The attempt, 
we are aware, has been made to relieve the pressure of these melan- 
choly facts by faintly retorting the accusation against our own body. 
But we challenge the world to place the two records side by side, in the 
severity of contrast. No ingenuity of sophistry can transmute into 


political dogmas the scant allusions to the historical reality of a great 
struggle then pending, or the thankful recognition, in the middle of a 

324 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

parag^raph, of the unanimity with which an invaded people rose to the 
defence of their hearthstones and the graves of their dead; or the pas- 
toral councils addressed to the members and youth of our own churches, 
passing through the temptations and perils of the camp and field ; or the 
half hour spent in prayer for a land bleeding under the iron heel of 
war; or even the incidental declaration in a narrative, to stand by an 
institution of the country, a traditional inheritance from our fathers. 
Even though, from the ambiguity of human language, these chance 
references may not have been always discreetly expressed, the most 
that a just criticism could pronounce, is, that they are inconsistent with 
the judicially pronounced principle upon which the Southern Assembly 
entered upon its troubled career. And when exaggerated in their larg- 
est proportions by all the prejudice of bitter partisanship, they dwindle 
into motes and specks by the side of those elaborate and colossal de- 
liverances, repeated each year through former committees, and exalted 
into solemn testimonies co-ordinate with the doctrines of religion and 
faith, which disfigure the legislation of both the Northern Assemblies 
through successive years. 

"It will thus be seen that in the providence of God the Southern 
Church has been made a special witness for the crown and kingdom 
of our Lord, when both were practically disowned; and that upon this 
very issue she was separated from her old .associations. Brought now, 
through their overture, for the first time face to face with this North- 
ern Church, this mighty principle emerges at once into view. We were 
cast forth, nine years ago, for this testimony to one of the grand ideas 
of the Gospel. We must go back with it still upon our lips, and ask 
those who desire official relations with us, Do we form these relations 
with a spiritual or with a political Church? We cannot do otherwise 
without recanting our own words, and endorsing the very error which 
drove us into ecclesiastical exile. We declare, therefore, that we can 
hold no official correspondence with the Northern Church, unless the 
Savior is reinstated in the full acknowledgment of his kingship in 
his own Church. Called to this testimony, for which we have already 
suffered the spoiling of our goods, we cannot lay it down at the very 
moment when that testimony becomes the most significant. 

"Again: the overture between us professedly founds upon the happy 
union just accomplished between the Old and New Schools, North. 
This is singularly unfortunate; for, in our judgment, the negotiations 
through which this union was consummated betrayed those sacred 
testimonies of a former generation, for the most precious and vital of 
the doctrines of grace. Our difficulty is not the mere fusion of these 
two Assemblies into one. A similar fusion took place six years ago 
between ourselves and the United Synod of the South. But the differ- 
ence between the two cases is wide as the poles. The Synod of the 
South united with us upon the first interchange of doctrinal views, 
upon a square acceptance of the Standards, without any metaphysical 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 325 

hair-splitting to find a sense in which to receive them, and without any 
expunging of whole chapters from the history of the past, with the sa- 
cred testimonies with which these are filled. It is not, therefore, the 
amalgamation of these bodies at the North, simply considered, which 
embarrasses us ; but it is the method by which it was achieved — ^the ac- 
ceptance of the Standards in no comprehensible sense, by which the 
united Assembly becomes a sort of broad Church, giving shelter to 
every creed lying between the extremes of Arminianism and Pelagian- 
ism on the one hand, and of Antinomianism and Fatalism on the other. 
If correspondence with such a body could be allowed at all, it cannot be 
based upon a preamble which constructively endorses a recession from 
the safe landmarks which is to all the lovers of sound Christianity 
the occasion of grief. We have been constrained, therefore, to fence 
our commissioners with a caution not to commit us in any degree to 
that diplomacy by which the union was accomplished, and so to rob us 
of our birthright in those testimonies, which is all that we brought 
out with us from that grand old historic Church of the past. 

"Again: We recfuire as an indispensable condition to all correspon- 
dence, a renunciation of that theory of Church government which 
practically obliterates the lower courts and destroys the appellate char- 
acter of the General Assembly, under which that unrighteous decision 
was reached against the Synods of Kentucky and Missouri. The 
former of these two bodies, being now a constituent portion of this 
Assembly, has a just claim upon us for the protection of their good 
name from the defamation they have experienced as witnesses to the 
principles which are common to us and them. Not only does good 
faith require us to keep covenant with those who have entered into 
union with us, but they are we, and we are they, bound together as 
witnesses in a common testimony. Fidelity to this testimony demands 
that those who have been martyrs to our common faith shall be re- 
instated in 'their good name before we can fraternally embrace those 
by whom they are maligned. Upon the principle that the interpretation 
of the law is the law, it is a simple requisition that this interpretation 
be disallowed, under which true and faithful men were unconstitu- 
tionally condemned. 

"The fourth and last condition of this correspondence was the un- 
equivocal retraction of the imputations against ourselves, industriously 
circulated throughout Christendom. This we would have clearly dis- 
criminated from personal resentment, or an unforgiving spirit. It is 
compelled by a proper sense of self-respect, and a due regard to the 
honor of our own Church. It is the homage which we are constrained 
to pay to truth and history. We cannot accept, even by implication, 
the charges with which the records of both wings of the United As- 
sembly are filled. Extending, as they do, to heresy and blasphemy, they 
are of the nature of judicial accusations, which must either be sus- 
tained or withdrawn. The *respect, and honor, and Christian love' 

326 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

with which we are approached in this overture are certainly inconsis- 
tent with the belief of these grave imputations. If not believed to be 
true, they should be cancelled, much more for the sake of those who 
have pronounced them than for ourselves who have so long borne the 
reproach. However this may be, any form of intercourse, while they 
remain upon record, would be a tacit acquiescence -in the same, and a 
submission to the dishonor which has been cast upon the name of our 
people and of our Church. 

"The differences betwixt us and the Northern Church are too vast 
and solemn to allow this question to be determined by any of the baser 
and meaner passions of human nature. If we know our o'wn hearts, 
this course is not prompted by feelings of malice or revenge, or that 
peevish resentment engendered by the irritation of controversy. We 
trust that Christian magnanimity would enable us to rise above all 
private wrongs and petty issues, transient as the hour which gives 
them birth. Our hearts are penetrated with the majesty of the prin- 
ciples which we are called to maintain; and we desire that you should 
feel yourself consecrated by the high purpose to aSlsert them with us 
before the world. 

"All the great truths of Christianity have had an historical out- 
working in the midst of humaa conflict and debate, and by this means 
they become potential and operative principles, wrought into the very 
frame and texture of the human soul. In the first centuries of the 
Christian Church all the great controversies resolved around the re- 
lations of the persons of the Godhead, through which the Church 
wrought out what may be technically called her theology. In the age 
of Augustine and his opposers, the field of conflict was transferred 
to the nature of man and the condition to which sin had reduced it, 
through which the Church wrought out what is scientifically termed 
her anthropology. In the great Reformation, when the Church broke 
away from the bondage of Romish superstition, discussion turned upon 
the method of grace, and the Gospel as a plan of salvation was wrought 
into the life and consciousness of the Church. But confusion and 
error still reigned over the minds of men with regard to the true mis- 
sion and relation of the Church in her corporate character as the spir- 
itual kingdom of the Redeemer upon the earth. The historical devel- 
opment of this is probably the work and the conflict of the present 
age; and the Protestants of our day are to hold up in the face of de- 
rision and scorn the true idea of the Church as the kingdom of 
the redeemed among men. In the adorable providence of God, our 
peeled and desolated Church is pushed to the front in this conflict. 
In the face of those ancient Churches^ which, in Europe, are still en- 
tangled with state alliances, the very foremost of which seem to be 
slow in grasping the grand conception which the Redeemer's discipline 
has been so clearly teaching them, and in the face of the Christianity 
of the Northern section of our own land, which, in the temporary 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 327 

frenzy, as we hope and pray, has resiled from the truth we thought 
it understood — ^this suffering Church of ours is called to testify. The 
pure white banner borne by the Melvilles, the Gillespies and the Hen- 
dersons, those noble witnesses of another age, for a pure spiritual 
Church has fallen into our hands to uphold. Floating from our walls 
the superb inscription, 'Christ's Crown and Cpvenant,' rings out the 
battle cry of that sacramental host which, by protest and reproach, by 
testimony and suffering, will yet conquer the earth and bring it in sub- 
mission to the Savior's feet. It is upon the assertion of this great 
and germinal principle out of which a true ecclesiology is yet to spring, 
this Assembly desires to place herself and you. The royalty of the 
thought will render you too kingly in all your purposes and desires 
ever to debase this testimony by yielding to the lower resentments of 
an unsanctified heart in the proclamation of your testimony. 

"These are the convictions which rule our decision in relation to 
correspondence with the Northern Church. Their offense with us is 
that we would not yield to the mistaken conscience which permitted 
them to bind the Church of our divine Lord to the wheels of Caesar's 
chariot. We cannot surrender this testimony for the privilege of sit- 
ting within their halls. Regarding them as still parts of the visible 
Catholic Church, notwithstanding their defection on this point, we 
place them where we place all other denominations whom we recog- 
nize, though differing from us. Wishing them prosperity and peace, 
so far as they labor to win souls to Christ, we feel it a higher duty 
and a grander privilege to testify for our Master's kingship in his 
Church, than to enjoy all the ecclesiastical fellowship which is to be 
purchased at the expense of conscience and of truth. 

"It may seem to some of you that any hesitancy on our part to 
enter into correspondence with any Church is out of accord with the 
spirit of the times, which finds expression in formal protestations of 
amity and unity between all evangelical Christians. But a little re- 
flection will make it manifest that this want of accord is only apparent, 
not real, so far as relates to any unity which is founded on a common 
reverence for the truth of Christ. For in every case of separation 
between brethren of the same Church on account of errors held, or 
supposed to be held, on the one side, and the purpose to testify against 
the same on the other, a formal recognition of each other may be in- 
compatible with the very end held in view in the separation. It may 
involve an utter obscuration of the testimony of the witnesses. Thus, 
it will be remembered, there was no official correspondence between ' 
the two bodies into which our Church divided in i837-*38 for the space 
of twenty-five years; though each held official correspondence with 
other bodies even less near to them in doctrine and order. Nor indeed 
was such correspondence even proposed until it was suggested as a 
preliminary to organic reunion. The Christian instincts of both bodies 
suggested that such correspondence must involve the inconsistency, 

328 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

on the part of each, of standing apart from the other, while under not 
only the same articles of faith, but the same constitution — each bearing 
witness against the other while affecting relations of unity. 

"In the spirit, therefore, of these councfls, we commend you, breth- 
ren in the Lord, to Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to 
comfort you with all the joys of his salvation." 

Tjhough put forth as the work of a committee, this letter 
was, substantially, Dr. Palmer's own in matter and form. Not 
stickling for the observance of small parliamentary rules, he 
was a great presbyter, comprehending fully the grand principles 
of the polity of his Church, and ready to lay himself out to see 
them applied in its history. He wias capable of rendering 
eminent services without apparent effort. Other services were 
rendered by him in the Assembly of 1870, and with his accus- 
tomed grace and efficiency; but his greatest services were in 
the production of the two papers just quoted: To determine 
the precise form of the reception to be accorded by the Assem- 
bly, South, to the overtures from the reunited Assembly, North, 
called for a peculiar combination of tact, and honest and stead- 
fast adherence to the truth not easily found. Dr. Palmer pos- 
sessed this combination in the highest degree. He understood 
the differences thoroughly; and in the Providence of God he 
had been specially prepared for just such a task. 

Beginning with the issue of August 19, 1869, a series of 
seventeen elaborate articles, on the "Reunion Overture of the 
Northern General Assembly to the Southern Presb3rterian 
Church," had appeared in the Southwestern Presbyterian. They 
were signed "Presbyter." They were from Dr. Palmer's pen. 
The writer objected to union in any form with the Northern 
Assembly because that body **has involved itself in criminal 
errors touching the kingly office of Christ; ignoring, persist- 
ently, His spiritual kingdom, the Church — betraying her spir- 
ituality and independence, and perverting the power of the keys 
to uphold the State, and introducing terms of ecclesiastical com- 
munion, unufarranted by Holy Scripture, and contradictory to 
the commands of Christ," Through six articles of consider- 
able length he carries the reader, piling high the proofs of this 
grave charge. In doing this he took up the Minutes of the 
Old School Assemblies, in order, from 1861 to 1865. His 
manner of presenting this proof may be best learned by the 
study of a sample. Accordingly, here follows the first of two 
articles on "The Assembly of 1865 :" 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 329 


"When the tribe of Benjamin had been nearly exterminated, we are 
told in the Book of Judges that 'all the people came to the House of 
God, and abode there till even, before God, and lifted up their voice, 
and wept sore, and said, O Lord God of Israel, why is this come 
to pass in Israel, that there should be to-day one tribe lacking 
in Israel?' This beautiful precedent we might have expected the 
Presbyterian Church to follow when it met in solemn Assembly, 
at the city of Pittsburg, in May, 1865. It was shortly after the 
surrender of the Southern forces, and the termination of hostilities; 
and the poor South lay panting and bleeding under the heel of 
the conqueror. The warpath of a victorious army^ut through the 
heart of her territory — smoked with the ruins of sacked cities and 
burning homes. Hungry and spent, feeble women and starving chil- 
dren lined this path of war, picking up the grains of corn which had 
fallen from the horses' mouths during a night's bivouac; and our fam- 
ished soldiery sprang from the arms they had stacked, to ask their 
former foes for bread. Perhaps the warrior justified these severities 
upon the plea of Cromwell, when he put to death the garrison at 
Drogheda, that it was necessary, to 'cut the Irish war to the heart.' 
But now that it is all done, surely the children of Israel will *repent 
them for Benjamin, their brother.' Sorrow will darken the face, and 
tears will moisten the cheeks of this venerable council, at Pittsburg, 
that a tribe should be lacking in Israel. Alas I Nothing is seen 
but the flush of fierce exultation in the hour of triumph; not a whisper 
is heard, but of vindictive retribution! Who will not exclaim, with 
David, 'Let us fall, now, into the hands of the Lord, for his mercies 
are great; and let us not fall into the hands of man?' It is impossible 
now to say what would have been the result, if a generous reconcilia- 
tion had been tendered in the hour of broken-heartedness, as we sat 
upon the ruins of all our hopes. If the overture of 1869 had been the 
overture of 1865, there had been fewer difficulties to surmount, and 
an easier return to the bosom that had not ceased to love. But the 
spirit of peace did not waft his wing over that haughty council. Had 
he been frightened away by the discordant sounds of the four preced- 
ing conventions? Certain it is, the water-spout of political fury, which 
had been gathering through four years of strife, burst, in the first hour 
of peace, in a deluge of wrath, on the Southern Church. 

"In support of this allegation we quote from a Minute adopted as 
follows : 

"'Whereas, During the existence of the great rebellion, which has 
disturbed the peace, and threatened the life, of the nation, a large 
number of the Presbyteries and Synods of the Southern States, whose 
names are on the roll of the General Assembly as constituent parts of 
this body, have organized an Assembly, denominated, 'the General 
Assembly of the Confederate States of America,' in order to render 
their aid in that attempt to establish, by means of the rebellion, a sepa- 

330 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

rate national existence, and 'to conserve and perpettiate the system of 
slavery;' therefore, 

"'Resolved, That this Assembly regards the civil rebellion for the 
• perpetuation of negro slavery as a great crime, both against our na- 
tional government and against God; and the secession of those Presby- 
teries and Synods from the Presbyterian Church, under such circum* 
stances, and for such reasons, as unwarranted, schismatical and un- 

"'Resolved, 2, That the General Assembly does not intend to aban- 
don the territory in which those churches are formed, or to compromise 
the rights of any of the Giurch Courts, or ministers, or ruling elders 
and private members belonging to them, who are lo3ral to the govern- 
ment of the United States, and to the Presbyterian Church. On the 
contrary, this Assembly will recognize such loyal persons as constitu- 
ting the churches, Presb3rteries and Synods, in all the bounds of the 
schism, and will use earnest endeavors to restore and revive all such 
Churches, and Church Courts. 

"'Resolved, 3, The Assembly hereby declares that it will reorganize, 
as the church, the members of any church within the bounds of the 
schism who are loyal to the government of the United States of Amer- 
ica, and whose views are in harmony with the doctrines of the Confes- 
sion of Faith, and with the several testimonies of the Presbyterian 
Church on the subject of domestic slavery,' etc. 

"We forbear citing the remainder of this lengthy paper, in which 
provision is made in detail for giving efficiency to the principles above 
enunciated. But we may quote, in this precise connection, a portion 
of the instructions given to their Board of Domestic Missions, as found 
in the two following resolutions: 

" 'Resolved, 3, That the General Assembly direct the Board of Do- 
mestic Missions to take prompt and efficient measures to restore and 
build up the Presbyterian congregations in the Southern States of this 
Union, by the appointment and support of prudent and devoted mission- 

"'Resolved, 4, That none be appointed but those who give satis- 
factory evidence of their loyalty to the National Government; ai^d that 
they are in cordial sympathy with the General Assembly of the Pres- 
byterian Church in the United States of America in her testimony on 
doctrine, loyalty and freedom.' 

"The aspersions against the Southern .Church, in the foregoing ex- 
tracts, we reserve for special consideration hereafter. We are, at 
present, establishing the charge of an unlawful complicity with the 
State, on the part of the Northern Church. 

"It will be observed how exactly this Assembly adopts the policy 
of the government As the one decides that the States must all re- 
main in the Union, even if they are to be pinned there with the bay- 
onet, so the other decrees all the Southern Presbyteries and Synods 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 331 

to be 'unconstitutionally and schismaticall/ withdrawn from the As- 
sembly's jurisdiction. As the State claims the right to coerce the se- 
ceded States back into the Union, so the Church will coerce the scfais- 
matical Presbjrteries back into their old ecclesiastical fellowship. And 
precisely the same measures of reconstruction are proposed in the 
Qiurch, which have worked so awkwardly in the State, viz. : A whole- 
sale disfranchisement of all who are suspected of disloyalty, and the 
erection of petty minorities in churches and Church courts into churches 
and courts in whom all the rights and franchises of a true succession 
are to vest. 

"It will be observed, again, with what vigor the Assembly addresses 
itself to the task of sowing discord and creating schism in the 
bosom of the Southern Church, by the 'appointment and support of de- 
voted missionaries,' who, like the carpet-bag politicians in the State, 
shall swoop down upon the prey, fanning the flame of discontent, if 
haply, it should anywhere burst forth; and offering every species of 
ecclesiastical bribes to the minorities whom they shall induce to se- 
cede. We are not without practical proof of the methods by which this 
fraternal scheme of disintegration was to be worked. For example, 
in the case at this moment pending, of the Church at Jacksonville, 
Fla., where the property is wrested by a minority, and held in the grasp 
— ^by the way, of the very Central Presb)rtery of Philadelphia, with 
whom this late overture of re-union originated — and which, at the 
very moment it extends with one hand these fraternal salutations, holds 
with the other the property of a Southern Church, wrested from it 
by the very process initiated by this Assembly of 1865 upon which 
we are now commenting. And if this scheme of disintegration did not 
generally succeed 'within the bounds of the schism,' the failure is due 
to the wonderful unanimity of our own people, presenting so few 
fissures in which to drive the wedge of division and strife. 

"It will be further noted how uniformly a profession of loyalty to the 
government is made the test of adhesion to the Assembly and the dis- 
tinguishing qualification of their agents who are to be employed in this 
work of ecclesiastical reconstruction, and finally, how these political 
utterances are exalted to the nature of 'testimonies ;' and how, in these 
testimonies, 'loyalty* and 'freedom' are co-ordinated with 'doctrine' and 
'the Confession of Faith' — the same emphasis being placed upon both. 
Nay, so far is this carried, that these testimonies on 'loyalty' and 
'freedom' are to be received ex animo, just like the doctrines of our 
religious creed. Inquisition is made into the secret heart, whose hidden 
'sjrmpathies' must all be in harmony with these deliverances. Ortho- 
doxy, piety, general fitness for the work of preaching the Gospel are 
all of them to be set aside, if 'satisfactory evidence is not given' upon 
this new and purely political test of 'loyalty to the National Govern- 
ment!' However discreetly in silence a godly minister may seal his 
lips upon these disputed points of allegiance and human rights, he is 

332 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

proscribed in the ecclesiastical Star Chamber, at Philadelphia, from 
which the commissions are issued to the evangelists of the Church, 
unless his concealed sympathies should be in conformity with the new 
standard erected. 

"But, the brevity of a newspaper article forbids expansion. We must 
be content with barely writing out the facts themselves, upon which 
the reader must make his own reflections. We pass on, then, to the 
action taken by this Assembly on the overture from the Presbytery of 
California, inquiring 'what course ought to be taken in admitting to 
this body ministers who are suspected of disloyalty to the Government 
of the United States?* 

"From the answer it would seem that a needless alarm had seized 
the body, lest there should be a general rush of the eight hundred min- 
isters in the South into its embrace, against which invasion the doors 
must be closed in season. We give only what is necessary to enable the 
reader to understand the spirit of this paper: 

" 'III. It is hereby ordered that all our Presbyteries examine every 
minister applying for admission, from any Presbytery or other eccle- 
siastical body, in the Southern States, on the following points: 

" 'i. Whether he has, in any way, directly or indirectly, of his own 
free will and consent, or without external constraint, been concerned at 
any time in aiding or countenancing the rebellion and the war which 
has been waged against the United States; and if it be found, by his 
own confession, or from sufficient testimony, that he has been so con- 
cerned, that he be required to confess and forsake his sin in this regard 
before he shall be received. 

" *2. Whether he holds that the system of negro slavery in the 
South is a divine institution ; and that it is 'the peculiar mission of the 
Southern Church to conserve the institution of slavery as there main- 
tained;' and if it be found that he holds either of these doctrines, that 
he be not received without renouncing and forsaking these errors. 

" 'IV. This injunction to Presbyteries is, in like manner, applicable 
to Synods; and it is hereby ordered that upon the application of any 
Presbytery, etc., such Synod shall examine all the members of said 
Presbytery on the points above named, etc. 

" 'V. Church sessions are also ordered to examine all applicants for 
church membership, by persons from the Southern States, or who have 
been living in the South since the rebellion, concerning their conduct 
and principles, on the points above specified; and if it be found that, 
of their own free will, they have taken up arms against the United 
States, or that they hold slavery to be an ordinance of God, such per- 
sons shall not be admitted into the communion of the Church till they 
give evidence of repentance for their sin, and renounce their error.' 

"We shall recur hereafter to this paper and render our own opinion, 
and those of our people, on some of its allegations, which may turn 
out a rather different version from that which these translators have 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 333 

given. We are dealing now simply with the politics of this doctrine 
and the spirit which it breathes toward the Southern Church. Here, 
then, precisely at the close of the war, before we had time to view our 
altered condition, and to look the question of future duty in the face, 
this venerable Assembly closes down upon us as rebels in the Church, 
no less than in the State, to whom a due punishment must be meted 
out. Instead of an overture saluting us as brethren in Christ, we are 
denounced as rebels and schismatics. Instead of the sweet wish that 
'we may again be united in one great organization,' the door is 
slammed rudely and violently against any return, and then locked, 
bolted and barred by imposed conditions, which the venerable body 
knew could never be complied with, through all time. 

"Although the Presbyterian Church at the South was thoroughly 
organized with a complete scale of Courts, this Assembly claims juris- 
diction over her whole territory; proceeds in an effort to disintegrate 
her; then appoints measures of reconstruction from the chaos which is 
to be wrought; and winds up with a bill of attainder, which, if it 
could only take effect, would deprive all the ministers and churches of 
the Southern Assembly of every ecclesiastical franchise. Singularly 
enough, too, the charges preferred do not touch one of the doctrines 
of grace, but are based upon subjects on which human opinion has, 
through all ages, been the most divided, and lying exclusively within 
the sphere of the State: the nature and limitation of civil allegiance, 
and the doctrine of natural rights. Thus, with entire consistency, the 
Northern Assembly follows the established precedents of its previous 
legislation, and stamps its own character as rather a political than an 
ecclesiastical body." 

His second objection to union in any form was based upon 
''the flagrant violations of the constitution in the Assembly's 
treatment of the signers of the Declaration and Testinwtuy; 
destroying all confidence in its interpretation of the only instru- 
ment which serves as a bond of union between the members 
of the same ecclesiastical organization. This point he argued 
most ably in three articles. 

His third objection was based **on the slanders deliberately 
uttered against the Southern Presbyterian Church, and remain- 
ing stUl uncancelled upon the records of the Assembly, which 
now proposes this overture for upion/' He denounced as 
slanderous: "i. The charge that the Southern Assembly was 
organised in the interest, and to subserve the ends of the Con- 
federate Government. 2. The charge that the Southern Church, 
in separating from the Northern, was guilty of unwarranted 
schism. 3. ThcU the Southern Church had changed its ground 


334 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. • 

on the subject af slavery, so as to hold opinions that were 
heretical and blasphenums," His refutation of these charges 
is about as nearly perfect as a refutation could be. It is full, 
expressed in five articles of considerable length, able and thor- 
ough, leaving little to be desired. 

His fourth ground of objection to the union with the North- 
em Church was "founded upon the consolidation, now almost 
accomplished, between the two wings of the Northern Church, 
the Old School and the New!' In this connection he shows 
that the United Church came together on a Latitudinarian and 
comprehensive basis ; that in regard to the polity of the Church 
the Old School had conceded almost every point of difference 
to the New School ; and that the Old School had cancelled all 
her peculiar testimonies concerning doctrine. 

Finally, he urged powerfully, against the proposed reunion 
with the Northern Church, that the utter ruin of the Presby- 
terian cause at the South would eventually ensue. 

There ha4 been a call for the republication of these articles 
in pamphlet form, from different parts of the Church, in re- 
sponse to which they had been republished, in January, 1870, 
in the form desired — ^an edition of twenty-five hundred cc^ies, 
each an octavo of eighty-seven pages. These scattered over 
the Church had done somewhat to prepare the mind of the 
Church for the work of the Assembly. 

He seems to have received hearty thanks and congratula- 
tions on his course in regard to fusion. He writes, July 21, 
1870, to Dr. John B. Adger: 

"In regard to the action of our Assembly at Louisville, I am in the 
receipt of letters from all parts of the Church expressing the warmest 
approval." He adds: "After a good deal of reflection, I am satisfied 
this action is not only right as to substance, but wise as to its form. 
Notwithstanding the dissent of a few, I am clear that the appointment 
of a committee, dry so, as Dr. Brown contends for, would have 
yielded the whole case upon its principles. It would have sent distrust 
and anxiety through our whole Church ; and would have resulted with- 
in a year in the organization of a distinct party for reunion at all 

The following letter shows that he was reluctant to restate 
once more the arguments against fusion, as early as the fall 
of 1870: 


Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 335 

"New Orleans, La., November 8, 1870. 
'Rev. Dr. J. B. Adger: 

Dear Brother: I have just returned from Synod, and find your letter 
upon my desk. As to the article you desire for the Review I am not 
strongly impressed with the importance of it. The whole subject has 
been thoroughly discussed, and except as a mere resume of the ar- 
g^ument, preserved in a form somewhat more paramount than either 
the newspaper or the pamphlet, I see no call for the article in questioa 

"Admitting, however, its necessity, I think it will come with better 
grace from any other pen than mine. Being so much implicated in the 
decision of the last Assembly, as to the form in which it was rendered, 
it might be construed in the light, somewhat, of a personal defense; 
and the article would have less weight, in coming from one whose 
position compelled him to be biased, in a review which ought to be 
calm and candid. 

"I dislike to seem disobliging, and would waive my judgment if 
necessary. But either yourself or Woodrow or Wilson can write 
the article — and from either of you, it would be more acceptable than 
from myself. 

"You are very kind to offer me the chance of replication to the per- 
sonal assault of the Princeton Review; but I have got clean past any 
sensibility in such matters; and am callous to all such criticism, as an 
alligator would be to the sportive assault of a parcel of boys. 

"If I felt that my pen could do a real service in this particular case, 
I would cheerfully comply, and upon purely public grounds. 

"I have $50.00 for Mrs. Thornwell. Where is she now — ^and how 
can I most safely remit to her? 

"Affectionately yours, 

"B. M. Palmer." 

Presbyterians in the Southwest had long felt the need of a 
denominational organ of local publication. An attempt had 
been made with the Presbyterian Index, at Mobile. That fail- 
ing, a most successful effort was made at New Orleans in 1869, 
the Trustees of the Depository, which had been established 
sixteen years before, undertaking to publish the paper known 
as the Southwestern Presbyterian, with Dr. Henry M. Smith 
as editor. 

Dr. Palmer was a member of the Board which published the 
paper, and a constant and highly valued contributor. 

The first issue contains a keen critique on the "Fanaticism 
of the World." In each of the next four issues he had an 
article on Foreign Missions, the first three polemical, directed 
against the principal objections to the work of Foreign Mis- 
rions ; such as "That the enterprise is chimerical," "That the 

336 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

Church has enough to do at home," and "That the heathen 
stand an even chance with ourselves to be saved, without the 
Gospel." The last article considers the grounds on which the 
great and solemn obligation to missions rests. Immediately 
following these came several exquisite sketches "From a Pas- 
tor's Portfolio," in which Dr. Palmer presents to his readers 
a series of pastoral experiences, sketched in a most charming 
way, and quite equal to the best of the Rev. Elihu Spencer's. 
Several of these have already been given the reader in present- 
ing Dr. Palmer's pastoral labors in the several periods of his 
life up to the present^^ 

One of these papers is headed, "The Young Student," and is 
as follows: 

"It was the month of June, and the rays of the golden sun glanced 
from the bosom of the broad Mississippi, as from a burnished mirror. 
Seated just within the saloon of the elegant steamer, where the eye 
was screened from the dazzling brilliancy without, whilst it feasted 
upon the shifting scenery of the distant bank, the writer surrendered 
himself to those dreamy meditations which so often hang like a soft 
mist around the mind of a traveler. His reverie was soon broken by 
a young man, who drew up his chair, and modestly opened the follow- 
ing conversation: 

" *I trust, sir, that you will not consider me obtrusive in introducing 
myself as a student of the University, whose commencement exercises 
you have just attended, and, as one of the audience, which listened 
to your stirring defense of Christianity.' 

" *0n the contrary,' I replied, *I am entirely disengaged, and have a 
recollection of my own college life fresh enough to secure the warmest 
interest in every young student I may chance to meet.' 

" 'Well, sir, I find my mind laboring under many difficulties on the 
subject of religion; and if I can persuade you that I am not actuated 
by a captious spirit, but by a sincere desire to know the truth, I would 
like to set them before you, under the conviction that you will be able 
to resolve them, if anyone can.* 

"Assuring him that I would listen with the utmost candor, I begged 
that he would free himself of all restraint, and speak everjrthing that 
was in his thought. 

" 'I have often desired such an opportunity as this,* he replied ; 
'but have always been afraid to express my doubts to those who could 

^* There were thirteen of the papers. From Pastor's Portfolio. 
They began with the issue of April ii, 1869 and ran till about the first 
of August proximo. The materials wrought up in these sketches were 
drawn from all parts of his previous pastoral life. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 337 

best relieve them, lest I should be written down as a free-thinker, and 
forfeit the esteem of those whom I revere.* 

''In this suspicion you greatly wrong us, my young friend. Minis- 
ters of the Gospel have wrestled with too* many doubts, in reaching 
their convictions, not to sympathize with the early struggles with 
others in the search after truth. Doubt,' I continued, 'is but the hun- 
ger of the mind, the starting point of all inquiry; and you remember, 
doubtless, that splendid passage of Sir William Hamilton, in which 
he defines the relation of honest doubt to all knowledge?' 

"A smile of grateful confidence played upon the ingenuous counte- 
nance before me. He had encountered no professional dogmatism, 
such as he had hinted at in his preliminary protest; and I felt that I 
had secured a pledge of his candor — so important, if disputation is to 
be carried to any positive result This point gained, I invited the 
statement of his difficulties. 

"'Ohl' said he, 'the Bible is so full of mysteries, which I cannot 

"'Granted;' was the reply; *but what of that?' 

'"Why, it does not seem reasonable, to me, that I should be re- 
quired to believe what I do not understand.' 

*"My young friend,' I said; 'will you stick to that?' 

"This challenge brought up the discussion at a round turn. He 
paused for a moment, as though measuring the sweep of the admission, 
and a little suspicious of some discomfiture lying in ambush. 

"'Why do you hesitate?' I resumed; 'you have stated the principle 
in broad terms, as universal in its application. If sound in one de- 
partment of inquiry, it must be equally so in every other; else, it is 
wholly without value as a critical test.' 

" 'I cannot see,' said he at length, 'but that it is a just canon ; I will 
stick to it, wherever it may lead.' 

"'This skirmishing is not without its use,' I added; 'for unless we 
settle principles at the outset there is nothing to which we can refer 
as the arbiter between us.* Taking, then a letter from my pocket: 
'Will you write upon the back of this, with your pencil, the fraction 
1-3, and give me its value in decimals?' 

He jotted down upon the blank envelope a string of .333, quite across 
its length. 'Have you exhausted that fraction?' I asked. 

" 'No,' was the reply. 

"'Well, go on until you do exhaust it.' 

" 'It is of no use ; for the exact value will not be expressed though I 
should extend this line of figures to the North Pole.' 

"'And yet you tell me that every additional figure brings you one 
step nearer to that value?' 
'Certainly !' 

'Well, my friend, if there is one conclusion plainer than another, 


tt i 
ft I 

338 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

it is that, if at each step I get nearer to an object, I have only to go on 
until I reach it' 

"'But, my dear sir, that is the doctrine of 'the Infinite Series* which 
mathematics demonstrates- goes on and never ceases/ 

" 'Precisely so,' I replied ; ' and I firmly believe it But what becomes 
of your fundamental principle of refusing to believe what you cannot 
comprehend ?' 

"He was evidently stunned by the unexpected retort, drawn, as it 
was, from the very science which professes to rest upon absolute 
demonstration, and claims to be certain of its conclusions. 'You are 
not staggered,' I continued, 'at the Infinite in mathematics; why should 
you be scandalized at the Infinite in God?' 

"As my antagonist remained silent, it was not necessary to press 
the illustration — ^which some of my readers will perceive to be exactly 
similar to those employed by Dr. Mason, in his admirable brochure, 
entitled 'The Young Traveler.' 'But,' said I, 'let us subject your favor- 
ite canon to another test. What is this which I toss in my hand?' 
*A gold pencil,' was the answer. 
'And the point with which it writes?* 
•Why, that is lead.' 

"'Very well. Now tell me, what is gold? and, what is lead? and 
what is it that makes the one differ from the other?' 

"He enumerated, with entire accuracy, the diflFerent properties of 
the two metals, and then paused. 'So far, so good,' I rejoined; 'you 
have described the special qualities of the two, by which they may be 
distinguished. You have told me, in other words, a good deal about 
them both — perhaps all that can be known, but you have not yet stated 
what either exactly is. You are too much of a scholar to confound 
the accidents with the essence. I wish to learn what that is in both 
these metals, which underlies their respective properties, and which 
makes the one not to be the other. You call it substance; but what is 
substance, but the unknown and incomprehensible something in which 
outward and inscrutable qualities inhere, and which renders what we 
behold a true entity?' 

" 'All our knowledge of matter,* he replied, 'is relative ; that is to say, 
we know its properties, and the laws or conditions under which they 
are manifested. But the essence of things transcends our knowledge, 
and must be assumed as a final fact, attested by the existence of the 
qualities which must belong to some substance, as the ground of their 

" 'All that I can readily receive ; but how you can do it, my young 
friend, in the face of your original principle, which rejects the incom- 
prehensible as an object of faith, I can scarcely reconcile with logical 

"*I am perfectly satisfied,* the student •frankly replied; 'and I 
thank you for rending the skepticism in which I was entangled.* 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 339 

« < 

tt t^ 

'And yet do you perceive that I have not solved any one of your 
many difficulties?' 

"'You have done more, sir; in showing the falsity of the principle 
upon which they all rested, I see clearly that the same difficulties meet 
me in the sphere of the natural as of the supernatural; and that I 
must either discard my infallible test, or plunge into universal doubt 
and unbelief/ 

"'Precisely the point to which I desired to lead you/ I replied. 
'The fact is, the * supernatural touches you everywhere ; you cannot 
move a dozen paces in any path of science before you bring up against 
the unknown; and all the inductive sciences really found at last, upon 
faith. Facts, not yet understood, are accepted simply as facts, each 
upon its own testimony. We, then, classify and compare, ascending 
from the lower generalization to the higher, until we eliminate the 
grand formula, or law, under which they are produced. Lay down, 
however, the canon, at the outset, that we may not believe what we do 
not comprehend, and the very basis is destroyed upon which your 
whole induction rests.' 

'That is transparently true in physical science,' he rejoined. 
'Much more then must the principle be false in religion,' I added; 
'where the subjects presented to our view are, in their very nature, 
transcendental. Whoever undertakes to carry it out, consistently, 
will find himself master of a very short creed. The doctrine of the 
Trinity is discarded because we cannot understand how God can be 
both one and three — ^as though these two propositions were affirmed 
of the Divine Being in precisely the same sense. Thus the mystery 
of the incarnation is abandoned because we cannot comprehend how the 
two poles of being shall be united in the same person, without mixture 
or confusion. But not to insist upon these higher mysteries, who ever 
conceived, rightly, of God's absolute eternity — without successions of 
time, but an eternal and present now? Who can explain how God 
knows? which is not by passing from mere premises to conclusions, as 
with us, but by one infinite, all-embracing thought; so that, by one 
movement of the magician's wand, God and nature both disappear, 
and leave you and me in a universe that is blank. The principle, 
therefore, with which you started, must be discarded, or you are left 
a prey to absolute pyrrhonism.' 

"'I see it! I see itl' responded my young friend; 'and I shall turn, 
now, with more docility to the teachings of Scripture, where God has 
been pleased to record his testimony of the supernatural.' 

" 'And may God give you the true wisdom, that you may know 
Him who is the Eternal Life.' was the benediction under which this 
interesting dialogue was closed." 

This series was followed by a paper advocating the founding 
of a great Southern Presbyterian University. In this paper he 

340 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

showed how larg^e and open a field for such a university there 
was by reason of the overthrow of the State and denomina* 
tional colleges and universities, through the war and recon- 
struction. He urged that Presb)rterians must not prove faith- 
less to their ancient educational renown, that they must become 
again educators, and that, realizing the practical demands of 
science and advancing knowledge, they must abandon the plan 
of each Synod's having its own small college and must have 
one great Presbyterian University for the whole South. Then 
came the seventeen articles opposing fusion with the Assembly, 
North. These were foUowied by two brief papers on "Parley- 
ing \vith Temptation," and, "Accepted in the Beloved." Then 
came a most instructive and edifying series of nine papers ex- 
pository of the Beatitudes. These expositions are as profound 
as they are simple. 

His contributions to the Southwestern during the first year 
of its course would have made an octavo volume of two him- 
dred pages. His series on "The Beatitudes" had run over into 
the second volume of the paper. These were followed by 
nearly a score of other papers, four of which were on subjects 
of prayer, four on "Christian Paradoxes," rich bits of practical 
exposition ; but the contributions to the Southwestern, Febru- 
ary, 1870, to February, 1871, did not amount to one-fourth 
the mass of those he had provided the year before. This 
falling off, is perhaps explained by his having to prepare his 
lectures on the philosophy of history for the Sylvester Lamed 
Institute during the fall and winter of 1870 to 1871. Owing 
to the necessity under which he labored, of traveling with a 
beloved daughter who was nearing the grave, in the summer 
of 1 87 1, and owing to her death, his pen remained compara- 
tively unused during the year 1871 to 1872. We have, how- 
ever, a few days after her death a significant paper on "Temp- 
tation in Sorrow" in which the Christian philosopher appears. 
This was followed, two months later, by a new and improved 
edition of his previously published papers on the Paradoxes. 
In the fourth volume of the Southwestern Presbyterian are 
about a dozen articles from his pen; of a devotional, exposi- 
tory, and practical character, for the most part. In the fifth 
volume, Dr. Palmer's world is more conspicuous. He writes 
on, "I go to prepwire a place for you," "The Remorse of Judas 
and the Repentance of Peter," "The Suicide of Judas." The 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 341 

Northern Assembly began, again^ in the spring of 1873 its 
attempt to draw the Southern Church into itself. It declared 
that in accordance with a resolution unanimously adopted by 
the two bodies then constituting the reunited Church, all action 
touching the brethren of the Southern Presbyterian Church, 
and the brethren of the Old School Synod of Missouri had 
been since the reunion, and was then, null and void. Ex- 
pressing its confidence in the Christian character of the South- 
ern brethren, it affirmed its belief that the barriers of separa- 
tion would be removed on more intimate communion. With 
regard to the relation of Church to State the Assembly deemed 
it "sufficient to call attention to" certain principles and -state- 
ments found in the Confession of Faith and the Form of Gov- 
ernment. Dr. Palmer presents his views on this renewed over- 
ture in four issues of the Southwestern, beginning June 12, 
1873. In the first of these articles, having quoted in full the ' 
paper, of the Northern Assembly, locrfcing to reconciliation, he 

"However we may regret the continued agitation of a subject, which 
we had supposed fairly put to rest, it is again thrust upon the at- 
tention of our people and must be again looked fully in the face. It is 
a comfort, however, that the proposition was not sprung upon our 
Assembly, by reason of its early adjournment, and that we have an en- 
tire year to consider it thoroughly; from which we hope this good to 
result, that the Church will be prepared to render its decision promptly, 
without the intervention of committees or conferences, against which 
we will deliver ourselves more distinctly by-and-by. We embrace 
now this first opportunity, when our columns are free from the pro- 
ceedings of our own Assembly, to examine the claims of this new 
'Olive Branch.' 

"i. This proposition is identical with that which was submitted to 
our Assembly at Louisville in 1870, and which was by it rejected. 
The language used then was as follows: 

"'Resolved, That with a view to the furtherance of the object con- 
templated in the appointment of said committee (of conference) this 
Assembly hereby reaffirms the concurrent declaration of the two As- 
semblies (Old and New School) which met in the city of New York 
last year, viz: That no rule or precedent which does not stand ap- 
proved by both bodies shall be of any authority in the re-united body, 
except in so far as such rule or precedent may affect the rights of 
property founded thereon.' 

**Under this purely constructive cancellation of former deliverances 
against us, by the operation of a declaration which had no reference 

342 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

to us when it was first made, but was simply part of the negotiation 
then pending between the Old and New Schools, we were invited in 
1870 to consider our grievances healed. Is the proposition different on 
May 21, 1873? Mark the language: That in accordance with a resolu- 
tion unanimously adopted by each of the two bodies now constituting 
the reunited Assembly, all action touching, etc., has been since the re- 
union null and void and therefore of no binding effect and not to be 
pleaded as a precedent in the future.' It is the old 'concurrent decla- 
ration' basis over again, nothing more, nothing less. Has anjrthing oc- 
curred to make that satisfactory in 1873 which was rejected as quib- 
bling and evasive in 1870? 

"There is a curious history about the paper on which we are now 
commenting. Some few weeks ago, the draft of an overture to be 
submitted to the Northern Assembly was prepared, it is said, between 
Drs. Brooks and Niccolls, the representatives of the contending parties 
in Missouri, and was extensively circulated amongst our ministers 
as a preliminary test of its acceptableness. The resemblance of this 
overture to that which was actually adopted by the Assembly, plainly 
shows it to have been the basis upon which the latter was framed; 
and yet upon this particular point, its language has been most mate- 
rially modified. The original draft, to which Dr. Brooks is understood 
to- have given his assent, requires the Northern Church to declare of 
its offensive legislation against us that *it be, and the same hereby is, 
declared null and void.' Here, then, a direct legislative enactment is 
proposed annulling and cancelling the past. But this is studiously 
altered into a mere declaration that it has always been null and void 
since the reunion; and by the mere force of a resolution seeking to 
bring the Old and New Schools together, and which never had any 
other than an ex post facto application to ourselves. What does this 
cautious change in the language of the original overture mean, but 
that the Assembly does not intend to be understood as repealing any 
of its former offensive legislation, but only as consenting to its becom- 
ing obsolete? 

"Any lingering doubt on this point will be removed by the following 
remarks of Dr. Niccolls, the chief mover of the measure, and the only 
speaker who is reported as advocating its passage. He says: 'These 
resolutions bear on the future prosperity of our Church. I would not 
have anything done to humiliate this Church, and we make no confes- 
sion or apology, but we simply want our brethren to understand there 
is no brand resting on them. When we deal with our fellow men, we 
must deal with them as equals. All our brethren want to know is, 
that there is nothing standing on the records against them. The two 
Assemblies, at their union in 1871 ( ?) [1869] made this declaration, and 
we to-day take no new action, but simply reaffirm the old/ 

"Our objection to this basis of union is to-day exactly what it was 
three years ago, that it prevaricates. It dead-letters, whilst it refuses 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 343 

to disown, Wc confess our utter inability to comprehend the state of 
mind and heart which such a course reveals. During a period of five 
years the records of the Northern Assembly teem with the most atro- 
cious slanders against us, in the form of solemn testimonies delivered 
in the fear of God against enormous wickedness. Now if those alle- 
gations were true when uttered, they are true still; for we declare 
that we have not changed our opinions and convictions in the least 
degree, nor in a single particular. Nay, if guilty under these charges 
in 1865, when they were heaped the most bitterly upon us, we are more 
guilty now by reason of persistency in what Northern Christians so 
intemperately denounced. Here then is the embarrassing dilemma 
in which the Baltimore Assembly places itself; if these things affirmed 
of us be true, how can they consent to hold them as obsolete; if they 
are not true, how can they be held back from openly retracting them? 
This is the view that is the most painful to us ; this want of manliness 
in standing by their own convictions, or that feebleness of convictions, 
which makes truth and honor mere matters of diplomacy and conven- 
ience. We cannot understand how a thing is, and yet is not, at the 
same moment; we cannot learn how to say and to unsay, in the same 
breath. This is our trouble in the matter of fusion with the Northern 
Church; and the objection holds good against fraternal correspondence 
as well as against organic union, so long as these terrible charges are 
not distinctly withdrawn. It is a mere evasion to say they are no longer 
insisted upon. This Assembly has by the very alteration of the original 
draft of their own paper plainly declared, that they take nothing back 
We repeat, with the profoundest sorrow at the necessity which compels 
it, that it is a prevarication to 'declare confidence in the Christian 
character of these brethren,' while 'these brethren' are stamped upon 
their records as heretics, blasphemers, traitors, — ^published industriously 
as such throughout the world until the hearts of all Christendom are 
turned away from us, — ^and a steady refusal is maintained to express 
even so much as regret for it all. The longer this matter is agi- 
tated in its present form, the deeper becomes our distrust of a body 
which sinks candor, honesty and Christian manliness in the effort to 
'palter in a double' sense,' and after the maxim of Talleyrand uses 
words for no other purpose than to conceal thought. 

"So far as the basis proposed for •fellowship and future union, 
it is precisely what we have already considered and rejected. We be- 
lieve the Southern Church stands more firmly upon the action taken 
in Louisville, in 1870, than she did when that action was first pro- 
claimed. We have other objections to urge against the new 'Olive 
Branch,' which we must reserve for the present." 

In the next two papers he stresses the following points: 
I. The inconsistency between the high professions of this over- 
ture, and the history of the Northern Church in wresting from 

344 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

us our property and fomenting divisions amongst our people. 
2. The unsatisfactory character of the overture as testimony to 
the spiritual character of the Church. 3. The false principles 
and false facts contained in the overture. Possessed of a copy 
of the paper drafted, on request, by Dr. Brooks of the Old 
School Synod of Missouri, and presented to the Northern As- 
sembly to be passed as an overture which would meet the appro- 
bation of the Southern Church, Dr. Palmer showed what the 
Northern Assembly would not do as well as what it would do ; 
particularly, that instead of a clear, definite, and manly re- 
affirmation of the spirituality of the Church, and the headship 
of King Jesus therein, the Assembly deemed it ''sufficient to 
call attention to the fallowing principles and statements" in 
the standards. The principles were indeed there, but the 
Northern Church had been trampling on them since 1861 till 
year of grace, 1873. Under the head of false principles and 
false facts, he exposes a number of sophisms, and some popular 
idols. For example, the Northern Assembly had spoken of 
"divisions" as a matter to be deplored — which duty and fidelity 
to the Lord required to be healed — and this, too, as necessary 
to a practical manifestation of our oneness in Christ Over 
against this he poured himself out in a torrent of fiery reason- 
ing. He will not have it that his Church is schismatical simply 
because she is not ready to dump herself onto the Northern 
heap. In this connection he says : 

"Our mature conviction is that the reckless desire throughout Chris- 
tendom to blot out all lines of separation, and to roll up all the branches 
of the Church into one imperial organization, has grown into a heresy 
which requires to be combated Unification is not unity, which is often 
destroyed when the union is accomplished. The unity which is sought 
to be realized in our day is a difterent thing from that which the Bible 
enjoins — ^which is, 'the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace/ 
This is far different from the unity of imperialism, the unity of ex- 
ternal organization. It is not prompted by the ambition to create a 
national Church, which by its mere bulk shall be a power in the land, 
able to cope with rival organizations in the influence they exert upon 
the politics of a country. It is a unity founded upon justice, which the 
Northern Church denies to us — ^and upon truth, which the Northern 
Church steadily obscures. It is a unity of faith — distinctly opposed 
to the Broad Churchism which quietly ignores doctrinal soundness, 
and merges into one general negation the most discordant creeds. 
In a word, comprehension is not unity. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 345 

He thinks that there are ample reasons why the Southern 
Presbyterian Church should maintain her own independent 
existence. In a subsequent article he argues the c<xnpetence 
of the reunited Northern Church to repeal the evil legislation 
of the Old and New School bodies down to the time of the 
Union, notwithstanding their assertions to the contrary. 

At least fifteen other articles in Volume V of the South- 
western Presbyterian are from his facile, elegant and able pen. 
The most of them were intended to quicken and stir the spir- 
itual life of the people. Toward the close of this volume we 
cc«ne upon the beginning of a most helpful series, which runs 
over into Volume VI. The series begins with an exposition 
of the words "God setteth the solitary in families." There 
are eight papers in the series. In them he attempts to analyze 
the several relations of the family, "to trace throughout the 
del^^ated authority by which it is constituted the model of the 
State ;" to show "in the subordination of its various parts how 
the great principles of law and government are illustrated, and 
how these are carried over, in the gradual expansion of the 
family into all the ramifications of the most diffused society." 

This series wtas followed at once by another series, of five 
papers, in which we have a presentation of the unfolding of the 
family as the primary germ, into the Church. As shall here- 
after appear, out of these two series was to grow a book. 




Occasional Addresses and Sermons. — ^A Good Turn to Columbia 
Seminary. — Begins the Labor of Preparing and Bringing Out 
THE Biography of James Henley Thornwell. — ^Letters of 
Friendship and Pastoral Concern. — ^Letters to His Sister So- 
PHRONiA. — Letter to Colonel Hutson. — ^Tribute to Mrs. Hutson. 
— ^The Death of His Daughters, Kate Gordon and Marion • 
Louisa. — ^The Marri.^ge of His Daughter, Gussie Barnard. — 
Interest in the Establishment of a University for the South- 
east. — His Call to the Chancellorship of the University. — 
Held in New Orleans. 

THE demand for occasional addresses and sermons contin- 
ued to be great throughout this period. No history of 
Dr. Palmer's life could be regarded as even approximately 
adequate that failed at least to refer to some of these dis- 

Mr. Alfred Hennen, the patriarch of the New Orleans Bar, 
at the time, a charter member of, and one of the two oldest 
ruling elders in, the First Presbyterian Church, a most ad- 
mirable gentleman, a scholar and a Christian, died January 19, 
1870. Soon thereafter Dr. Palmer was asked to deliver in 
connection with Mr. Hennen's death, an address on "Chris- 
tianity and Law ; or the Qaims of Religion on the Legal Pro- 
fession." After a glowing tribute to Mr. Hennen, he presented 
a masterful argument for Christianity, founded upon its won- 
derful affinity with human jurisprudence. The address was 
received with high favor. The following members of the bar, 
Messrs. C. Roselius, Wm. W. King, John Finney, Thos. J. 
Semmes, Robt. Mott, and B. R. Forman, requested its pub- 
lication "believing it well calculated to elevate the character of 
the profession." 

The death of Gen. Robt. E. Lee was an occasion of uni- 
versal grief throughout the South. On the evening of October 
18, 1870, New Orleans gathered at the St. Charles Theatre. 
Eulogies were delivered by the Hon. Wm. Burwell, Hon. 
Thos. J. Semmes and Dr. Palmer. The whole brilliant inside 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 347 

of the great building was covered with broad folds of black 
and white. The house was jammed, all standing places taken, 
and multitudes not able to enter. Mr. C. A. Johnson served 
as president of the gathering, having with him, seated on the 
stage, perhaps three hundred and fifty vice presidents, includ- 
ing representatives from every prominent family in the city. 
Noble eulogies were pronounced by Mr. Burwell and by Mr. 
Semmes. The address of the latter was so fine that some of 
Dr. Palmer's friends awaited his exordium with a degree of 
nervousness. Their nervousness was not justified. The min- 
ister took the audience to yet higher ground. His address 
was almost entirely impromptu, but he understood the demands 
of the occasion and met them. He spoke for his city, his 
State, and for the whole Southland. 
After some preliminaries he said : 

"It would be a somewhat singular subject of speculation to dis- 
cover how it is that national character so often remarkably expresses 
itself in single individuals who are bom as representatives of a class. 
It is wonderful, for it has been the remark of ages, how the great 
are born in clusters — sometimes, indeed, one star shining with solitary 
splendor in the firmament above, but generally gathered in grand con- 
stellations, filling the sky with glory. What is that combination of 
influences, partly physical, partly intellectual, but somewhat more 
moral, which should make a particular country productive of men 
great over all others on earth and to all ages of time? 

"Ancient Greece, with her indented coast inviting to maritime ad- 
ventures, from her earliest period was the mother of heroes in war, 
of poets in song, of sculptors and artists, and stands up after the 
lapse of centuries, the educator of mankind, living in the grandeur of 
her works, and in the immortal productions of minds which modem 
civilization with all its cultivation and refinement and science has never 
surpassed and scarcely equalled. 

"And why in the three hundred years of American history it should 
be given to the Old Dominion to be the grand mother, not only of 
States, but of the men by whom States and empires are formed, it 
might be curious were it possible for us to enquire. Unquestionably, 
Mr. President, there is in this problem the element of race, for he is 
blind to all the tmths of history, to all the revelations of the past, 
who does not recognize a select race as we recognize a select individual 
of a race, to make all history; but pretermitting all speculation of 
that sort, when Virginia unfolds the scroll of her immortal sons — ^not 
because illustrious men did not precede him gathering in constellations 
and clusters, but because the name shines out through those con- 

348 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

stellations and clusters in all its peerless grandeur — we read the name 
of George Washington. [Applause.] 

"And then, Mr. President, after the interval of three-quarters of a 
century, when your jealous eye has ranged down the record and 
traced the names that history will never let die, you come to the name 
— the only name in all the annals of history that can be named in the 
perilous connection — of Robert E. Lee [applause! — the second 
Washington. [Applause.] Well may old Virginia be proud of her 
twin sons. [Applause.] Bom almost a century apart, but shining 
like those binary stars which open their glory and shed their splendor 
on the darkness of the world, sir, it is not an artifice of rhetoric 
which suggests this parallel between two great names in American 
history; for the suggestion springs spontaneously to every mind, and 
men scarcely speak of Lee without thinking of a mysterious connec- 
tion that binds the two together. 

"They were alike in the presage of their early history — ^the history 
of their boyhood. Both earnest, grave, studious — bom alike in that 
peculiar purity which belongs only to a noble boy, and which makes 
him a brave and noble man filling the page of a history spotless until 
closed in death; alike in that commanding presence which seems to 
be the signature of heaven sometimes placed on a great soul when 
to that soul is given a fit dwelling place; alike in that noble carriage 
and commanding dignity — exercising a mesmeric influence, and a 
hidden power which could not be repressed, upon all who came within 
its charm; alike in the remarkable combination and symmetry of their 
intellectual attributes, all brought up to the same equal level, no 
faculty of the mind overlapping any other — ^all so equal, so well 
developed, the judgment, the reason, the memory, the fancy, that you 
are almost disposed to deny them greatness, because no single attribute 
of the mind was projected upon itself — ^just as objects appear some- 
times smaller to the eye from the exact symmetry and beauty of their 
proportions; alike, above all in that soul greatness, that Christian 
virtue, to which so beautiful a tribute has been rendered by my 
friend whose high privilege it was to be a compeer and comrade 
with the immortal dead, although in another department and sphere: 
and yet, Mr. President, in their external fortune so strangely dis- 
similar — ^the one the representative and the agent of a stupendous 
revolution, which it pleased heaven to bless, and give birth to one of 
the mightiest nations on the globe; the other the representative and 
agent of a similar revolution, upon which it pleased high heaven 
to throw the darkness of its frown, so that bearing upon his gener- 
ous heart the weight of this cmshed cause, he was at length over- 
whelmed. And the nation whom he led in battle gathers with spon- 
taneity of grief over all this land, which is plowed with graves and 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 349 

reddened with blood, and the tears of a widowed nation in her be- 
reavement are shed over his honored grave. [Applause.] 

''But these crude suggestions, which fall almost impromptu from 
my lips, suggest that which I desire to offer before this audience 
to-night. I accept Robert E. Lee as the true type of the American 
man, and the Southern gentleman. [Applause.] A brilliant English 
writer has well remarked with a touch of sound philosophy, that when 
a nation has rushed upon its fate, the whole force of the national 
life will sometimes shoot up in one grand character, like the aloe 
which blooms at the end of a hundred years, shooting up in one 
single spike of glory, and then expiring. [Applause.] And wherever 
philosophy, refinement and culture have gone upon the globe, it is pos- 
sible to place the finger upon individual men who are the exemplars 
of a nation's character, those typical forms under which others less 
noble, less expanded, have manifested themselves. 

"That gentle, that perfect moderation, that self-command which 
enabled him to be so self-possessed amidst the most trying difficulties 
of his public career, a refinement almost such as that which marks 
the character of the purest woman, were blended in him with that 
massive strength, that mighty endurance, that consistency and power 
which gave him and. the people whom he led such momentum under 
the disadvantages of the struggle through which he passed. 

"Born from the general level of American society, blood of a noble 
ancestry flowed in his veins, and he was a type of the race from which 
he sprang. Such was the grandeur and urbaneness of his manner, 
the dignity and majesty of his carriage, that his only peer in social life 
could be found in courts and among those educated amidst the refine- 
ments of courts and thrones. In that regard there was something 
beautiful and appropriate that he should become in the later years of 
his life the educator of the young. Sir, it is a cause for mourning 
before high heaven to-night, that he was not spared thirty years to 
educate a generation for the time that is to come; for as in the days 
when the red banner streamed over the land, the South sent their 
sons to fight under his flag and beneath the wave of his sword, these 
sons have been sent again to sit at his feet when he was the dis- 
ciple of the Muses and the teacher of philosophy. [Applause.] Oh, 
that he might have Brought his more than regal character, his majestic 
frame, all his intellectual and moral endowments, to the task of 
fitting those that should come to the crisis of the future, to take the 
mantle that has fallen from his shoulders and bear it to the genera- 
tions that are unborn. 

"General Lee I accept as tjie representative of his people, and of 
the temper with which this whole Southland entered into that gigantic, 
that prolonged, and* that disastrous struggle which has closed, but 
closed as to us, in grief. Sir, they wrong us who say that the South 

350 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

was ever impatient to rupture the bonds of the American Union. The 
War of 1776, which, sir, has no more yet a written history than has 
the War of 1861 to 1865 [applause], tells us that it was this South- 
land that wrought the Revolution of 1776. [Applause.] We were the 
heirs of all the glory of that immortal struggle. It was purchased 
with our blood, with the blood of our fathers, which yet flows in 
these veins, and which we desire to transmit, pure and consecrated, to 
the sons that are bom to our loins. [Applause.] The traditions of 
the past sixty years were a portion of our heritage, and it never 
was easy for any great heart and reflective mind even to seem to part 
with that heritage to enter upon the perilous effort of establishing a 
new nationality. 

Mr. President, it was my privilege once to be thrilled with a short 
speech, uttered by one of the noblest names clustering upon the roll 
of South Carolina — for, sir. South Carolina was Virginia's' sister, and 
South Carolina stood by Virginia in the old struggle as Virginia stood 
by South Carolina in the new [applause], and the little State, small 
as Greece, barren in resources but great in the grandeur of the 
men, in their gigantic proportions, whom she, like Virginia, was per- 
mitted to produce — I heard, sir, one of South Carolina's noblest sons 
speak once thus ; *I walked through the Tower of London, that grand 
repository where are gathered the memorials of England's martial 
prowess, and when the guide, in the pride of his English heart pointed 
to the spoils of war, collected through centuries of the past, said 
this speaker, lifting himself upon tiptoe that he might reach to his 
greatest height, I said, "You cannot point to one single trophy from 
my people, or my country though England engaged in two disastrous 
wars with her." ' [Applause.] Sir, this was the sentiment. We loved 
every inch of American soil, and loved every part of that canvas 
[pointing to the Stars and Stripes above him] which as a symbol of 
power and authority, floated from the spires and from the mastheads 
of our vessels; and it was after the anguish of a woman in birth 
that this land which now lies in her sorrow and ruin took upon her- 
self that great peril; but it is all emblematized in the regret experi- 
enced by him whose praises are upon our lips, and who, like the 
English Nelson, recognized duty engraved in letters of light as the 
only ensign he could follow, and who, tearing away from all the 
associations of his early life, and abandoning the reputation gained 
in the old service, made up his mind to embark in the new, and with 
that modesty and that firmness, belonging only to the truly great, 
expressed his willingness to live and die in any position assigned to 

"And, I accept this noble chieftain equally as the representative of 
this Southland in the spirit of his retirement from struggle. It could 
not escape any speaker upon this platform to allude to the dignity of 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 351 

that retirement — how from the moment he surrendered, he withdrew 
from observation, holding aloof from all political complications, and 
devoting his entire energies to the great work he had undertaken to 
discharge. In this he represents the true attitude of the South since 
the close of the war — an attitude of quiet submission to the conquering 
power, and of obedience to all exactions — ^but without resiling from 
those great principles which were embalmed in the struggle, and 
which, as the convictions of a lifetime, no honest mind could release. 

"AH over this land of ours there are men like Lee — ^not as great, not 
as symmetrical in the development of character, not as grand in the 
proportions which they have reached, but who, like him, are sleeping 
upon memories that are holy as death — [applause] — and who, amidst 
all reproach, appeal to the future, and to the tribunal of history, when 
she shall render her final verdict in reference to the struggle closed, 
for the vindication of the people embarked in that struggle. [Ap- 
plause.] We are silent, resigned, obedient, and thoughtful, sleeping 
upon solemn memories, Mr. President ; but as said by the poet preacher 
in the Good Book, 'I sleep, but my heart waketh,' looking upon the 
future that is to come, and powerless in everything except to pray to 
Almighty God who rules the destinies of nations, that those who have 
the power may at least have the grace given them to preserve the 
constitutional principles which we have endeavored to maintain. [Ap- 
plause.] And, sir, were it my privilege to speak in the hearing of the 
entire nation, I would utter with the profoundest emphasis this 
pregnant truth: That no people ever traversed those moral ideas 
which underlie its character, its constitution, its institutions and its 
laws, that did not in the end perish in disaster, in shame and in dis- 
honor. [Applause.] Whatever be the glory, the material civilization 
of which such a nation may boast, it still holds true that the truth 
is immortal, and that ideas rule the world. [Applause.] 

"And now, I have but a single word to say, and that is that the 
grave of this noble hero is bedewed with the most tender and sacred 
tears ever shed upon a human tomb. 

"I was thinking in my study this afternoon, striving to strike out 
something I might utter on this platform, and this parallel between 
the first Washington and the second occurred to me. I asked my own 
heart the question, Would you not accept the fame, and the glory, 
and the career of Robert £. Lee just as soon as accept the glory 
and career of the immortal man who was his predecessor? [Ap- 
plause.] Sir, there is a pathos in fallen fortunes which stirs the sensi- 
bilities and touches the very fountain of human feeling. I am not 
sure that at this moment Napoleon, the enforced guest of the Prus- 
sion king, is not grander than when he ascended the throne of France. 
There is a grandeur in misfortune, when that misfortune is borne by a 

3S2 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

noble heart with the strength of will to endure, and endure without 
complaining or breaking. Perhaps I slip easily into this train of re- 
marks, for it is my peculiar office to speak of that chastening with 
which a gracious Providence visits men on this earth, and by which 
he prepares them for heaven hereafter; and what is true of individuals 
in a state of adversity is true of nations when clothed in sorrow. Sir, 
the men in these galleries that once wore the gray are here to-night 
that they may bend the knee in reverence at the grave of him whose 
voice and hand they obeyed amidst the storms of battle; the young 
widow, who but as yesterday, leant upon the arm of her soldier hus- 
band, but now clasps wildly to her breast the young child that never 
beheld its father's face, comes here to shed her tears over this grave 
to-night; and the aged matron, with the tears streaming from her 
eyes as she recalls the unforgotten dead, lying on the plains of Gettys- 
burg, or the heights of Fredericksburg [applause], now to-night, joins 
in our dirge over him, who was that son's chieftain and counselor 
and friend. 

•*A whole nation has risen up in the spontaneity of its grief to 
render the tribute of its love. Sir, there is a unity in the grapes 
when they grow together in the clusters upon the vine, and holding the 
bunch in your hand you speak of it as one; but there is another unity 
when you throw these grapes into the wine press, and the feet of 
those that bruise these grapes trample them almost profanely beneath 
their feet together in the communion of pure wine: and such is the 
union and communion of hearts that have been fused by tribulation and 
sorrow, and that meet together in the true feeling of an honest grief 
to express the homage of their affection, as well as to render a 
tribute of praise to him upon whose face we shall never look until 
on that immortal day we shall behold it transfigured before the 
Throne of God. [Applause.]' 

\»t 1 

February i6, 1872, Dr. Palmer delivered a lecture before 
the Historical Society of New Orleans, on the "Tribunal of 
History,*' an able piece of work in which he shows that truth 
will out. It was intended to comfort as well as to instruct; 
to give courage as well as to inform. He says : 

''In the gloom that hangs about us there is a prevailing tendency to 
spurn the testimony of all human records. We are in a condition to 
see how history is manufactured for a purpose; how an impudent 
partisanship manipulates the facts; how the truth we personally know 
is suppressed ; how gross fictions are stereotyped by endless repetition ; 
how the brand of injurious epithets is freely used to stamp false- 
hood with the seal of truth; and how misrepresentation and calumny 

* Reported in Southern Presbyterian, October 27, 1870, p. 3. 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 353 

are stuffed into books which circulate round the globe and preoccupy 
the minds of men. Is it strange if some should morbidly infer that 
all history is but a romance at best, if it be not also a libel and a 
slander? To which we reply, that falsify the record of particular 
and isolated facts as men may, there is a residuum of truth which 
cannot be destroyed, and which shall be the basis of a safe appeal to 
the judgment of an impartial posterity. Throw into the region of 
fable all the achievements of Semiramis and Sesostris, still Assyrian 
and Egyptian histories will survive, which in the aggregate we are 
able to measure, and whose precise value we can determine. History 
delves amidst the ruins of Nineveh and Persepolis, walks around the 
hanging gardens of Babylon, survesrs the temples and tombs and 
pyramids of Egypt, calculates the physical force which lay in all those 
ancient despotisms, and then renders her decree. It is, that this long 
succession of gigantic empires simply held the world until the light of 
freedom could break from the West — until, out of the bosom of a 
better civilization, philosophy and science should rescue it from the 
dominion of a superstitious and fantastic imagination. It points the 
wholesome moral, that of all things on earth nothing is weaker than 
force; and in its calm judicial tone, pronounces the most withering 
sarcasm upon the ambitions and achievements of the sword." 

June 9, 1872, he delivered a great discourse at the dedication 
of the new church edifice of the First Presbyterian Church, 
Savannah, Ga., his theme being "Christ the Builder of the 
Church." The discourse was delivered without manuscript, 
according to the preacher's habit. The people wished the ser- 
mon printed in pamphlet form. About six weeks later the busy 
pastor in New Orleans finds time to reproduce the "line of 

June 15, 1872, he delivered an address on the One Hun- 
dredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Nazareth 
Church and Congregation in Spartanburg, S. C. The address 
is a truly magnificent sermon on Ephesians 3: 20, 21, his sub- 
ject being; "The Glory Which the Infinite and Blessed God 
Secures to Himself Through His Immortal Church." The 
people having heard wished a copy of the sermon, which he 
writes out and mails to them the 20th of August, proximo. 

Meanwhile, June 2^, 1872, he had delivered a memorable 
address on, "The Present Crisis and Its Issue," at Washington 
and Lee University, Lexington, Va. 

Dr. Palmer began this oration in his usual modest conver- 
sational tone: "History breaks into epochs which constitute 
its natural boundaries, just as rivers and mountains define the 


354 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

limits of countries upon our globe. Annalists, therefore, who 
seek to partition it by centuries, are as foolish as geographers 
would be in making parallels of latitude the lines of separa- 
tion between provinces upon their maps." Presently he pos- 
sessed his hearers of a clear conception of what he meant by 
"epoch." He pointed to two classes of epochs, one relating 
to tmiversal, the other to particular, history ; and was saying : 
"To this latter class of epochs lying in the range of particular 
rather than general history, I desire now, gentlemen of the 
University, to solicit your attention. That they are critical 
periods, is plain from the fact that they are periods of transi- 
tion. The navigation is always dangerous through the nar- 
row straits which connect two open seas. And the grave ques- 
tion arises, how a people brought to the end of a pven cycle, 
may safely tide over the bar, and find the deeper sea-room 
lying beyond. The question is a most practical one to us upon 
this continent, to-day ; for it involves the possibility of a great 
people 'slouching down on the wrong side of its crisis ;' which 
a moderate share of virtue would enable it to turn with safety 
and honor." 

The speaker declared that there were at least two canons 
which experience had furnished, bearing upon this issue, viz. : 
**That no people has long kept its place in history after travers- 
ing the fundamental principles upon which the national char- 
acter has been formed;" and "that in passing successfully 
through any crisis, a people must possess elctsticity enough to 
adapt themselves to new conditions, and thus to meet the issues 
of another cycle" Having nobly unfolded and illustrated each 
of these canons, he passed to "The consideration of what we 
should endeavor to retain from the past and what we should 
cheerfully surrender to the future." In this connection he 
made and pressed the following suggestions 

"i. Before all others, is the problem of race, in adjusting the rela- 
tions between two distinct peoples that must occupy the same soil. 
It is idle to blink it, for it stares us in the face wherever we turn: 
and the timidity or sensitiveness which shrinks from its discussion, is 
equally unwise and unsafe; for the country needs to know the com- 
prehensive principles which will compel its settlement. Under the old 
regime, the relation betwixt the two was exceedingly simple, because 
it was domestic. The bonds were those of guardianship and control 
on the one side, of dependence and service on the other. All this is 
now changed, and the two races are equal before the law. The sud- 

Rebuilding the Broken Walls. 355 

denness of this translation, without any educational preparation for the 
new position, was a tremendous experiment It furnishes no mean 
illustration of the heroic boldness of American legislation ; and its early 
and successful solution will afford the most conspicuous proof of tiie 
vigor of the national life. My own conviction is, that it is far too 
delicate and difficult a problem to be solved by empirical legislation — 
either by the State, on its political side, or by the Church, on its 
ecclesiastical. It must be patiently wrought out in the shape which an 
infinitely wise Providence shall direct — and it needs the element of 
time, with its silent but supreme assimilating and conciliatory influence. 
But so far as I can understand the teachings of history, there is one 
underlying principle which must control the question. It is indis- 
pensable that the purity of race shall be preserved on either side; 
for it is the condition of life to the one, as much as to the other. 
The argument for this I base upon the declared policy of the Divine 
Administration from the days of Noah until now. The sacred writings 
clearly teach that, to prevent the amazing wickedness which brought 
upon the earth the purgation of the Deluge, God saw fit to break 
the human family into sections. He separated them by destroying the 
unity of speech; then by the actual dispersion, appointing the bounds 
of their habitation, to which they were conducted by the mysterious 
guidance of his will. The first pronounced insurrection against his 
supremacy, was the attempt by Nimrod to oppose and defeat this 
policy; and the successive efforts of all the great kingdoms to achieve 
universal conquest have been but the continuation of that primary 
rebellion — always attended by the same overwhelming failure that 
marked the first. Among the methods of fixed separation between 
these original groups, was the discrimination effected by certain 
physical characteristics, so early introduced that no records of tradi- 
tion or of stone assign their commencement; and so broadly marked 
in their respective types, as to lead a class of physiologists to deny the 
unity of human origin. I certainly believe them to be mistaken in this 
conclusion, and firmly hold to the inspired testimony that 'God hath 
made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face 
of the earth/ But there is no escape from the corresponding testimony, 
bibli(;^l and historical, that the human family, originally one, has beeii 
divided into certain large groups, for the purpose of being kept his- 
torically distinct. And all attempts, in every age of the world, and 
from whatever motives, whether of ambitious dominion or of an 
infidel humanitarianism, to force these together, are identical in aim 
and parallel in guilt with the usurpation and insurrection of the first 

"However true that the specific varieties within these groups may 
safely intermingle and cross each other, the record of four thousand 
years confirms the fact, that there can be no large or permanent 

356 Life and Letters of Benjamin M. Palmer. 

commixture of these great social zones, without ruin: and that ruin 
as complete as can be conceived, since it extends to the entire physical, 
intellectual and moral natures. Why, just follow the history of 
colonization by the Anglo-Saxon and Latin races, respectfvely. The 
former, distinguished by what I may be permitted to term the instinct 
of race, has steadfastly refused to debase its blood by such admixture: 
and over all the world, in all latitudes, their colonies have thriven. 
England, for example, besides the glory of giving birth to such a 
nation as our own, boasts to-day of her immense dependencies amid 
the snows of Canada and the jungles of India. On the other hand, 
the latter, with a feebler pride of race, has blended with every people, 
and filled the earth with